2 Keys to Victory: Lakers vs. Jazz

Ryan Sun/Associated Press

The 19-20 Los Angeles Lakers are in Salt Lake City tonight, matching up against the 20-20 Utah Jazz.

The Lakers have been subpar as of late, going 4-6 in their last 10, with their most recent loss coming against the Suns at home on Thursday. On the other hand, the Jazz are rolling, as they will look to extend their win streak to five games tonight.

This game will be even tougher for LA, as LeBron James is out with an ankle injury.

In what shapes up to be a gritty matchup at the bottom of the Play-In picture, let’s dive into our two keys to a Laker victory tonight.

Hot Jazz

Head Coach Will Hardy and the Utah Jazz have been playing some of the best offensive basketball in the association during their four-game winning streak.

Over their past four, the Jazz rank number one in the league in offensive rating at 129.0 and second in the league in FG% at 55.2%. They’ve also shot the three-ball efficiently, ranking fourth in their last four games in 3P% at 41.3%.

Utah works as one cohesive unit, swinging the basketball to find the open man for quality, high-percentage looks. The Jazz rank sixth in the league in FG% assisted at 66.3%.

The trio of Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, and Colin Sexton are averaging 68.3 points over their last four and shooting a combined 53.8% from the field, with a whopping 48.3% from the three.

The Lakers, who’ve struggled mightily in terms of slowing teams down offensively, are in for a true test against this strong-scoring team.

LA ranks in the bottom third over the last 15 games in opponent FG% at 49.1% and has especially struggled to slow teams down from beyond the arc, ranking third worst in opponent 3P% at 41.0%.

Ultimately, the Purple and Gold will need to emphasize playing stronger perimeter defense to slow down the Jazz's offensive production to keep up in this one. 

Turnovers

At the heart of the Lakers' loss against Phoenix were the turnovers. LA committed 18 turnovers compared to the Suns’ 12. In January, the Lakers are averaging 17.6 turnovers per game, the highest in the league in that time frame. 

The Suns managed to score 28 points off Laker turnovers, a trend that has been consistent over their last 15 games as they sit eighth in average points given up per game off turnovers at 17.9. In their last five, they jump to tied for the worst in the association at 22.4. 

The LakeShow needs to get their turnovers under control, or they will continue to surrender large numbers of points on the defensive end due to their negligent offensive play.

Expect Head Coach Darvin Ham and the Lakers to emphasize cleaning this play up ahead of their matchup tonight.

The Lakers could use a win tonight to bump them back into the Play-In picture and build some momentum ahead of the rest of January.

If the LakeShow can come out of the gates early with energy defensively and cohesion offensively, they could find themselves on track to beat the Jazz on the road tonight. 

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