Lynne Sladky, Associated Press
Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Johnson (7) drives to the basket as Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (9) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Nets 88-84.

The Utah Jazz open its home slate as the Los Angeles Lakers come to town for an early season matchup.

The new-look Lakers come into the game with a 1-0 record after a knocking off the Houston Rockets 120-114 on Wednesday.

While there are more big-name players on the floor, the matchup that comes out on top is Joe Johnson and Luol Deng, which will play a big role in deciding the winner of the game.

The former Eastern Conference all-stars are both in their first year in the West and providing veteran leadership on young and up-coming teams.

Deng had a rough opening night scoring the ball for the Lakers, but his value is much more than his offensive production at this point in his career. He is a solid defensive player who does all the little things to help his team succeed.

The key for Johnson is to make Deng work so much defensively that he has no legs to add scoring punch to an already potent offense.

According to, in 29 losses in 2015-16 (with the Miami Heat), Deng shot just 42.3 percent from the floor, including 32.5 percent from beyond the arc. That's a big difference from the 47.6 percent (36 from 3-point range) he shot in 45 wins.

That means Johnson not only needs to knock down shots, but he also needs to stay active offensively. He proved he could do that in the opening night loss to the Trail Blazers with 29 points on 12 for 16 shooting from the floor.

While the Jazz don't need him to put up those kind of numbers every night, he definitely needs to be a major scoring threat in the absence of Gordon Hayward.

Jay Yeomans is a sports writer for Contact him at [email protected].