#713 Los Angeles Lakersvs.#714 Utah Jazz
Written by Ricky Dimon
NBA: Friday, October 28 at 9:00 p.m. EST
The Line: OFF. Total: OFF.
The Los Angeles Lakers will be looking to start the season 2-0 when they visit the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Friday night. Los Angeles tipped off the 2016-17 campaign with a 120-114 home win over Houston on Wednesday. The Jazz are 0-1 following Tuesday’s 113-104 loss at Portland.
Luke Walton picked up his first official win as a head coach in the NBA when his Lakers took care of the Rockets on Wednesday. Of course, roaming the bench as the main man is nothing new for Walton. Golden State went 39-4 under his command while Steve Kerr missed time due to back trouble during the 2015-16 campaign. L.A. trailed by six heading into the fourth quarter against Houston, but it dominated the final 12 minutes by a 30-18 margin. Shooting guard Jordan Clarkson scored 25 points off the bench. Point guard D’Angelo Russell added 20 points and power forward Julius Randle delivered 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. The Lakers will, however, want to cut down their 15 turnovers.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done,” Clarkson said. “It was the first one. I feel like as the season progresses we’ll do a better job of coming together and making the most of each possession.”
Utah lost to the Trail Blazers on Tuesday, but veteran guard Joe Johnson impressed in his debut with the team. Johnson, who inked a two-year, $22 million deal during the offseason, poured in 29 points–27 of which came in the second half. The 35-year-old drained 12 of 16 shots from the floor, including three of four from long range. He also contributed four rebounds, three assists, and a steal. The Jazz will need more of the same from Johnson going forward, because small forward Gordon Hayward is out with a broken finger.
“I want to do what I can to help this team win,” Johnson commented. “This loss hurts, because we were in a position to win, on the road, against a tough team. This was a tough loss but there are positives in this. We have got to grind and get better.”
“Joe was really good for us,” head coach Quin Snyder assured. “He’s someone who is a veteran and we try not to put too much weight on his shoulders. He was able to get it going, and we saw he had it going and we tried to get him the ball.”
The Los Angeles Lakers are:
The Utah Jazz are:
Utah put up a respectable fight against Portland even without Hayward and power forward Derrick Favors (knee). Favors, though, could return on Friday. That would be a big help to the Jazz, who won three of last season’s four meetings with L.A. Only when Kobe Bryant scored 60 points in the finale did the Lakers prevail. Well, Kobe ain’t walkin’ through that door this time around. The Lakers are 0-8 ATS in their last eight on the road, 1-9 ATS in their last 10 against losing opponents, and 5-12 ATS in their last 17 against the Western Conference. Utah is 5-2 in its last seven following an ATS loss and 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between the two teams. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.
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A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is a freelance sports writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has previously worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.