On Wednesday evening, the LA Lakers and Utah Jazz meet for only the second time during the 2014/15 NBA season. In the first meeting, the Lakers lost 95-84, as Gordan Hayward scored 31 points at Staples Center.
About a month later, the Lakers enter EnergySolutions Arena with only 10 available players. Nick Young will miss the game due to a swollen left knee, and the 29-year-old missed Monday and Tuesday's practice with the issue. Robert Sacre will be avaialble despite missing Monday's practice. Sacre was able to go through Tuesday's session after recovering from a swollen left foot.
With the Lakers announcing Ronnie Price had successful elbow surgery on Wednesday, the Lakers now have four players likely out for the season. Price is expected to be out six to eight weeks, which means the point guard could potentially return for the last few games of the season. Rookie Julius Randle remains sidelined with a leg break, Kobe Bryant is on the shelf with a shoulder injury and Steve Nash is out due to a back issue.
Byron Scott sticking with same starters: Jordan Clarkson (PG), Wayne Ellington (SG), Ryan Kelly (SF), Carlos Boozer (PF), Robert Sacre (C) — Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 25, 2015
For Wednesday's game, Lakers coach Byron Scott is sticking with the same starters as the Sunday's win over the Boston Celtics. However, the Lakers played their best basketball when the bench unit came in. From that unit, Young and Price will be massive losses.
Likely, rookie Jordan Clarkson and fellow point guard Jeremy Lin will need to play heavy minutes with the Lakers thin at the point guard position. With Young out, Wesley Johnson likely will not play at the power forward position, and the Lakers should rely on rookie Tarik Black. Black only managed four minutes against Boston.
On the season, the Lakers only have 14 wins and Utah only has 21 wins, so this is not a mismatch on paper. That being said, Utah has won four of its last five games, including wins over Portland and San Antonio. Not surprising, the Lakers do not enter Wednesday's game as favorities. While that may be common this season, the Lakers may well not be favored in another game for the remainder of the season: home or away.
The Los Angeles Lakers face the Utah Jazz at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time.