Friday, January 11 at 10:00 PM ET
Vivint Smart Home Arena
The Los Angeles Lakers try to extend their two-game winning streak when they visit the Utah Jazz, with LeBron James expected to miss another three games with a strained left groin. The Jazz have won three of their last four games while the Lakers have won their last two, mostly because of Kyle Kuzma, who's been their second-best player all season long.
Kuzma thriving without LeBron James
Kyle Kuzma had 22 third-quarter points, part of a career-high 41 in 29 minutes over three quarters on Wednesday's 113-100 win against the Pistons. Kuzma was 16-for-24 from the field and he made five of his 10 3-point attempts. It all happened a week after suffering a lower back contusion and two days after scoring just 13 points while missing 16 of the 20 shots he attempted in a 107-97 win at Dallas.
It was the second straight win for the Lakers, making them 3-5 since LeBron James (groin) and Rajon Rondo (ring finger surgery) went out because of injuries after Christmas Day.
At 23 years old, Kuzma is already the team's second-best scoring threat, averaging 18.8 points in 40 games and he's an interesting piece for the Lakers, his game might not check every box but he checks what many consider the biggest one and the team actually scores nearly eight more points per 100 possessions with him on the court and they've scored about as efficiently in minutes when Kuzma's on the floor sans LeBron James as when they share it.
Donovan Mitchell helps Jazz rally to beat Magic
Donovan Mitchell took over on offense, hitting several critical shots and setting up others to help spark a second half rally that gave the Jazz a 106-93 victory over the Magic on Wednesday night.
Mitchell shot 75 percent from the field after halftime, going 8-for-12 and setting up four other baskets with assists. The second-year player finished with 33 points and seven assists, helping the Jazz win for the third time in four games and improve to 21-21 overall.
Mitchell's performance helped the Jazz overcome the absence of their top two point guards, Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum, who are both sidelined with injuries. Joe Ingles had 16 points and seven assists and Rudy Gobert added 12 points and 14 rebounds. The Jazz trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half before rallying behind a 25-3 run in the third quarter, when they went 13-for-21 from the field while holding the Magic to 5 of 21 shooting.
The Los Angeles Lakers are:
16-7-1 ATS in their last 24 games following a straight up win of more than 10 points
The Utah Jazz are:
1-4 ATS in their last five games following a straight up win
1-4 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win
1-4 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning straight up record
1-5 ATS in their last six games following a straight up win of more than 10 points
After scoring 21 points in Dallas, Lonzo Ball stepped his game up even further against the Pistons, he scored just five points on 2 of 6 shooting but he dished out 11 assists, including five to Kyle Kuzma. Ball launched full-court assists, broke out vicious handles and created all kinds of havoc on defense.
The Lakers will look to him for continued leadership in the absences of LeBron James and Rajon Rondo while the Jazz are battling their own injuries.
Ricky Rubio (right groin strain), Dante Exum (left ankle sprain), Thabo Sefolosha (right groin sprain), Raul Neto (left groin strain), Grayson Allen (right ankle sprain) and Tony Bradley (right ankle surgery) are out and four of them are guards, so the positional matchup between Ball and Donovan Mitchell could be very important and in my opinions there's tremendous betting value on the Lakers catching eight points.
NBA Pick: Lakers +8 (-110) at Jazz Sports
Check odds here: http://bit.ly/2RMxhhA