The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Utah Jazz on Friday night at Staples Center, and the Lakers finally face a team that they match up well against. Utah does not have a quick point guard, and the visitors have an undersized front line. That hardly guarantees a Lakers’ win on Friday night, but this is a game the Lakers are more than capable of winning.
Entering Friday night, the Utah Jazz have eight wins in their last 10 games. They have been able to put together the impressive run without point guard Mo Williams, who was averaging 12.9 points and a team-high 6.7 assists this season.
Williams exploited the Lakers’ inability to defend small scoring guards the last time these teams met—just as every other point guard under 30 years-old has this season. Williams scored 22 points and recorded nine assists on Dec. 9 en route to a 117-110 Utah victory.
The Lakers will breathe a sigh of relief at not seeing Williams dressed to play on Friday.
In Williams’ absence, experienced point guard Jamaal Tinsley, who spent the first seven years of his career in Indiana, has quarterbacked the team. Tinsley is prone to committing turnovers when pressed, as he has recorded four or more turnovers in three of the last five games. His lack of pace at 34 years of age provides the Lakers an opportunity to finally match Steve Nash against a point guard.
Even at home, the Lakers do not have any guaranteed wins on the schedule. An overall record of 17-25 proves that point.
LA has dropped 10 of its last 12 games and is currently seven games below .500. Honestly, the Lakers have been trending in the wrong direction despite having Nash back. After two separate promises of a “new season” over a 10-day period, the Los Angeles Lakers need to stop talking and just start winning.
After Dwight Howard pulled himself out of the game on Wednesday, fans and the team were relieved to find the Lakers’ center did not suffer any further damage to his already injured right shoulder. He was cleared to play on Thursday, and the Lakers need him on Friday.
Howard will likely start the game against Al Jefferson, who leads the Jazz in points at 17.1 and rebounds at 9.8 per game. Essentially, Jefferson averages a double-double on the season.
Along with Jefferson in the front court, the Jazz feature an undersized rebounding power forward named Paul Milsap.
Milsap averaged 15.9 points per game over the past 10 games, and his eight rebounds per game over that stretch are certainly not to be ignored. Milsap is coming off a special 16 points and 15 rebounds performance against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, so he can certainly dominate a game in the paint.
Still, the Lakers have a size advantage in the front court and should be able to contain Utah’s guards in the back court. No win is certain with the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers, but Friday night is a good bet to end the Lakers’ four-game losing streak.
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