Nick Young #0 leads the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers into Utah to face the Jazz on Dec. 27, 2013
After three straight defeats, the Los Angeles Lakers look to rebound. Facing the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City was a dizzyingly difficult date in seasons past, but this season, the Jazz are only 3-10 at home.
Truthfully, the Jazz aren’t especially good anywhere.
Overall, Utah has only won eight of 31 games this season. Is Utah the worst team in the NBA? No, but the Jazz are bottom of the Western Conference. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Utah is actually playing its best basketball of the season with four wins in its last eight games.
The Jazz got off to a disastrously poor 1-14 start. Since that point, however, Utah has won seven of 16 games. The Lakers have only won six of their last 16 contests, so the Jazz are hotter than the Lakers entering Friday’s contest.
Suddenly, the Jazz don’t sound all that bad, do they?
Gordon Hayward, who is in his fourth year in the NBA, leads Utah in points and steals. The oversized shooting guard is putting up career-highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals. However, Hayward is shooting career-lows in field goal percentage and three-point percentage, meaning the extra shots are not leading to higher efficiency.
The Lakers left ailing center Pau Gasol at home, so LA will start another new starting lineup. This will be lineup no. 15 for Mike D’Antoni in only his 30th game of the season. Injuries have forced the Lakers to constantly adjust lineups, and Friday night will likely feature only one of the five starters from opening night—Shawne Williams.
LA will be looking to get Jordan Farmar, who will start his second game of the season, involved early. Farmar missed over three weeks with a torn hamstring and looked rusty in his first game back. Injuries to Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash forced Farmar into a starting role, but he is only starting his second game of the season.
These days, a conversation about the Lakers cannot be complete without at least one mention of Nick “Swaggy P” Young. The Lakers’ leading scorer is averaging 15.7 points on the season and 18.2 points during the month of December. Since moving to the Lakers’ bench, Young has scored in double figures in 20 of 21 games. Entering Friday’s game, Young is on a streak of 15 straight games scoring in double digits.
Whether or not he ultimately gets the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, Young is making a strong case. Also, going one-on-one against LeBron James on a national stage did not hurt his argument any.
The Lakers at Jazz tips off at 6:00 pm PST.