As the Lakers await the return of Lebron James from injury, they continue to scrap and keep the team’s head above water. They continue to shoot well (47.5%) and put points on the board (112 PPG) behind an up-tempo offense that looks brilliant at times. After immediately losing 5 of 6 following Lebron’s injury, the Lakers have managed a couple of nice victories in a row over Detroit and Dallas. Since the beginning of December, the team has struggled a bit on the road, going 4-7. With Lebron on the bench, the scoring responsibilities have been competently shared by Kyle Kuzma (18.8 PPG) and Brandon Ingram (16.3 PPG). Veteran Tyson Chandler has done a good job on the boards, pulling down 7.1 RPG.
The Jazz continue to be one of the most disappointing teams in the league. After a nice playoff run in 2017-18, it seemed reasonable this young team would only get better. Unfortunately, inconsistency has kept the Jazz from realizing its potential. Some of the blame can go to a lethargic offense that ranks 21st in the league at 108 PPG on shooting of just over 45% from the field. Those numbers are significantly worse that last year. Second-year G Donovan Michell again leads the team in scoring with 20.7 PPG while veteran Rudy Gobert leads the team in rebounding at 12.3 RPG. While the team has remained pretty healthy throughout the season so far, PG Ricky Rubio is dealing with a couple of nagging injuries that could slow him down.
Prediction: On paper, these teams seem pretty well matched even without Lebon James in the lineup. The Jazz are only 9-8 at home straight up, which makes the size of this point spread a bit confusing. Instead of trying to overanalyze the situation, this looks like a good time to take too many points. Play Los Angeles +8.5 (score – Los Angeles 108-107)