Utah Jazz (16-20) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (8-30)
Sunday, 7:30 p.m.
TV: ROOT Sports
Radio: 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
(Pregame coverage starts at 7 p.m. on Root Sports and 6 p.m. on the radio)
The Utah Jazz snapped a three-game losing skid when they knocked off the Miami Heat 98-83 Saturday night. The team now looks to break another losing streak as they head to the Staples Center to face off against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday.
The Jazz (16-20) have lost seven straight contests away from their home court. The last time the Jazz won on the road was Nov. 25 when they defeated the Clippers 102-91 in Los Angeles.
Despite having the worst record in the Western Conference (8-30), the Lakers have been playing better basketball as of late. The Lakers finished 2015 strong with a road win over the Boston Celtics and started 2016 strong with wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns. But since then, they are riding a three-game losing streak with the latest being a narrow 117-113 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Guard Lou Williams dropped a career-high 44 points in the loss.
Los Angeles is still led by 20-year veteran Kobe Bryant. Bryant, who leads all players in votes for the All-Star Game, is averaging 17.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. Despite a nagging shoulder injury, he is expected to play against the Jazz.
Utah has had beyond its share of injuries this season. Center Rudy Gobert has played in the last two games after missing 18 straight ball games with an MCL sprain in his left knee. With Sunday's game being on the second night of a back-to-back, it's likely to see Gobert have his minutes reduced.
Forward Derrick Favors (back spasms) and guard Rodney Hood (ankle) are both listed as questionable. Favors has missed nine straight games while Hood missed just his second game of the season against Miami. Guards Dante Exum (torn ACL) and Alec Burks (fractured left fibula) will be out as they are recovering from theirs surgeries.
Guard Chris Johnson made his first career start in place of Hood Saturday. Johnson finished with 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Rookie Trey Lyles started in place of Favors, and he pulled in 10 rebounds and knocked down a 3-pointer.
Power forward Julius Randle nearly gets the Lakers a double-double every night with averages of 10.6 points and 9.5 rebounds a contest. Los Angeles' dual point guards Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell have been playing great the past couple weeks. Clarkson is averaging 15.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, while Russell averages 11.7 points and 3.4 assists per game. Russell is questionable with an ankle sprain.
This will be the first matchup between these two teams since the infamous preseason scuffle between Trevor Booker and Roy Hibbert. Hibbert is averaging 6.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest as the Lakers' starting center while Booker averages 5.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game off the bench for the Jazz.
David Brinkerhoff is a student at Utah Valley University studying sports broadcasting and journalism. Contact him at email@example.com