Dwight Howard skies over Detroit's Jason Maxiell for a rebound during… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
Both the Lakers and the Utah Jazz have started the season slowly with matching 1-3 records.
The Lakers are set to visit Utah on Wednesday night, with hopes of building their first win streak of the season. Utah is looking to end a three-game slide.
Utah has four powerful big men in Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Mo Williams is off to a fast start and yet the Jazz has just a single victory.
With Steve Nash still recovering from a leg injury, the Lakers will have to play an excellent game of basketball to escape Utah with a win.
Jefferson's scoring is down a bit, to 12.3 points per game on 44% shooting, but he's a true back-to-the basket center. Last season, he averaged 19.2 points nightly along with 9.6 rebounds.
Dwight Howard is still working his way into game shape after back surgery, but through four regular-season appearances with the Lakers, he's averaging 23.3 points a game on 68.8% shooting.
At 4.3 fouls a game, Howard isn't quite himself yet defensively, but he's still blocking 2.5 shots nightly.
Jefferson needs to get Howard into foul trouble, while the Lakers center needs to protect the boards and the paint.
Williams is a quick guard with range. He's leading the Jazz with 20.8 points a night along with 6.8 assists.
The Lakers are going to need big performances from point guards Steve Blake and Darius Morris, although defense is best played by five players on the court in concert. So far this season, the Lakers have been a bit spotty on that end of the floor.
Jordan Hill gives the Lakers rebounding and can be the energizer off the bench. The Lakers will need him to combat Utah's size.
The Jazz are desperate for a win, and they usually play their best at home.
The Lakers are short-handed without Nash.
Utah should be favored here but there's something intangible about this game that says it goes to the Lakers.
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You can email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org.