The Lakers had yesterday off, so their new acquisitions had a chance to practice with the team and get their timing down. Meanwhile, the Jazz played an overtime game last night so the Lake Show gets the call.
The Utah Jazz are coming off a 99-92 overtime victory at home last night over the Warriors and will tip off against the white hot Lakers tonight on the NBA odds in Los Angeles.
Utah Jazz (22-22 SU, 21-21 ATS)
The Jazz will be without the services of their primary offensive weapon Al Jefferson for a second straight night but are hoping for similar results to last evening's 99-92 overtime win at home against Golden State. Reserve Derrick Favors was a force to be reckoned with last night as he started in place of Jefferson and accounted for 23 points to go along with 17 rebounds which is what New Jersey had envisioned when they selected him 3rd overall in the 2010 draft but shipped him to Utah in a trade a little over a year ago. Since that time, Favors has been used in a secondary role but his prowess on the glass may get him increased playing time and more opportunities to bang the boards. He will again be starting as Jefferson attends funeral services for his grandmother in Mississippi.
The Jazz have won their last two games in OT and will be looking for a third consecutive victory for the first time since mid-January but have been horrendous on the highway with a 5-16 record straight up and a bankroll busting 7-14 against the number. The last time these teams met in Los Angeles, the Lakers destroyed Utah in late December 96-71 as six point favorites. The Jazz are 10th in the league in points scored, averaging 97.6 but are ranked 22nd in points allowed, surrendering 98.3 per game. Whenever a team is scoring less than they are allowing, it's a recipe for disaster, or at the very least mediocrity which is exactly what Utah's record indicates (22-22).
Los Angeles Lakers (28-16 SU, 20-23 ATS)
The Lakers bid adieu to Derek Fisher last week in a trade that shook the fans as well as his long time friend and team captain, Kobe Bryant. This will be their second game without Fisher but LA continued to roll without their stalwart veteran point guard on Friday in a 97-92 win over the Timberwolves. Kobe led the charge with 28 points and went 5 of 8 from beyond the arc. Steve Blake started in place of Fisher and was held scoreless and added only six assists in 28 minutes of action. However newly acquired Ramon Sessions had a more auspicious start with his new team, collecting seven points, five assists and four boards in 20 minutes of play. It appears Blake will again get the nod at point guard but look for Sessions to be used liberally throughout. You would think a team that boasts Kobe Bryant, Pao Gasol and Andrew Bynum would be amongst the top teams offensively but the Lakers linger at 17th in that category scoring only 95.2 points per contest but defensively they are much better allowing only 92.6 PPG good for 7th overall. But without question the biggest part of their game is on the boards where they average 45.8 rebounds per game which ranks them 2nd in the NBA.
Friday morning I wrote that the Timberwolves might be a good play against the Lakers that evening as eight point underdogs because LA was still reeling from the trade of their beloved point guard Derek Fisher and the new acquisitions had not had time to assimilate into their new team and it's offensive and defensive schemes. Well, the Lakers got the win but my readers got the cover as LA wound up winning by less than the eight point impost.
But tonight the Lakers are looking for their sixth consecutive win and eleventh at home. After a few days rest and some practice with the new faces, it should be a big night in LA as they will be facing a team that is just off a grueling overtime win (their second consecutive OT) and had to hop a plane to Los Angeles late last night. The line has risen a full point from the opener but we will lay it anyway as the Lakers will whip a worn out Jazz by fifteen or more.
NBA Pick: Lakers -11