LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 27: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against Raja Bell #19 of the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on December 27, 2011.
Tonight, the Lakers travel to Salt Lake City to face a fellow 1-3 team.
The Utah Jazz, however, have only played one game at EnergySolutions Arena, and that game was a blowout victory for Utah.
In that lone victory, the Jazz put together a near-perfect third quarter against the Mavericks. With Utah trailing by eight at the half, head coach Tyrone Corbin must have had some choice words for his guys. By the time the fourth quarter started, the Jazz had taken a 16-point lead after out-scoring their opponents 37-13 in the third quarter.
The Lakers visit to the Great Salt Lake tonight with some well-documented third quarter deficiencies. This season, the Lakers, on average, are on the short side of a 27-21 third quarter. In fact, the Lakers have only put up over 20 points in the third period on one occasion this season—the win over Detroit.
The good news for the Lakers is that after Utah won its season opener, the Jazz hit the road for a three- game stretch. With consecutive losses at New Orleans, San Antonio, and Memphis, the Jazz are on a losing streak.
The Lakers, on the other hand, just broke their first losing streak of the season, so tonight is the first chance for Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and company to start a winning streak.
Look for the Lakers to get the ball inside to Howard and Gasol from the start with Kobe distributing early, similar to the start against the Pistons. Utah is undersized with a starting front court of Paul Milsap (6-foot-8) and Al Jefferson (6-foot-10).
Also, look for Bryant to get to the free throw line. Last season, Kobe averaged ten free throws per game against the Jazz. The Lakers split the season series 2-2.
Utah significantly changed its roster this offseason. New addition Mo Williams is leading the Jazz in minutes, points, assists, and steals. With the Lakers exposed at the point guard position, look for Williams to have another big night.