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Preview: Lakers vs. Jazz

December 09, 2012|By Eric Pincus
  • Jazz power forward Paul Millsap knocks the ball from the grasp of Lakers center Dwight Howard in the fourth quarter Wednesday night.
Jazz power forward Paul Millsap knocks the ball from the grasp of Lakers… (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)

The Lakers (9-11) return home briefly on Sunday to host the Utah Jazz (11-10).  After winning one of three on the road, the Lakers will get a single game at Staples Center against the Jazz before embarking on a four-game trip.

With a 2-6 road record, the Lakers need to get as many wins as possible at home to offset their troubles away from Staples Center.

The team already lost to the Jazz, 95-86, on Nov. 7. The Jazz are dominant at home but have won only three of 12 on the road.

Pau Gasol is questionable, sitting with tendinitis in both knees. Steve Nash is trying to work through a leg injury.

Both Derrick Favors (plantar fasciitis) and Al Jefferson (back) are ailing, but seem more likely to play than not on Sunday.

It's a winnable battle for the Lakers, but they'll need a strong game to beat the Jazz.

Key Matchup

Paul Millsap has a unique combination of power and finesse. He's capable of big offensive numbers either facing up or taking the ball to the basket. He's often been a difficult cover for the Lakers.

The Lakers seem to go as Antawn Jamison goes. When he has a big night as a scorer, the Lakers usually get enough offense from Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Jamison.

The Jazz average 100.5 points a game. The Lakers need to mind Millsap while getting Jamison to spread the floor on offense.

X-factor

When Randy Foye is hot, he can change a game. He was the difference when the Lakers played the Jazz in Utah, scoring 17 while hitting five of nine from three-point range.

Jodie Meeks can be a similar spark for the Lakers. His performance in the loss to the Thunder on Friday was one of his best of the year, beyond his shooting. The Lakers desperately need energy off the bench. That's where Meeks can thrive if he puts in the effort.

Outlook

The Lakers are difficult to predict this season. They have typically responded to losses and should do so again on Sunday against the Jazz.

ALSO:

No reason to bench Pau Gasol

Jodie Meeks is becoming a factor for the Lakers

Howard loses 50 percentage points with three-point miss

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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