NBA game of the day: Jazz at Lakers

Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers (-6.5, 206)

The Los Angeles Lakers continue to struggle and the Utah Jazz are coming off their largest victory margin of the season entering Sunday’s game. Host Los Angeles is two games under. 500 after losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and has yet to find a comfort zone under new coach Mike D’Antoni. Utah rolled to a 131-99 win over the Toronto Raptors, putting together a dominating effort despite center Al Jefferson being sidelined with back spasms.

Kobe Bryant scored 35 points and Dwight Howard had 23 points and 18 rebounds in the loss to Oklahoma City. Howard said afterward that people need to be more patient. “It’s 82 games. This team has just gotten together,” said Howard in reference to how long a season lasts. “It’s not like we’re going to get together and start winning right away. … We’re learning how to play together. We’re getting better. This is not on anybody’s timetable but ours.” The Jazz defeated the Lakers 95-86 on Nov. 7 in what proved to be Mike Brown’s final game as Los Angeles coach.

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ROOT (Utah), Time Warner Cable SportsNet (Los Angeles)

ABOUT THE JAZZ (11-10):
Jefferson is a game-time decision due to the injury he suffered in Wednesday’s victory over the Orlando Magic. Second-year center Enes Kanter made his first career start in Jefferson’s place and was solid with 18 points and eight rebounds against Toronto. “He made me feel like if I do have a little injury, I can sit out and he’ll step up and play well for me,” Jefferson said. Kanter had nine points in 13 minutes against the Lakers in the earlier meeting. Eight different players scored in double figures against the Raptors. Forward Derrick Favors (arch) could miss his fifth consecutive game.

ABOUT THE LAKERS (9-11):
Los Angeles has struggled to effectively operate as an offense with point guards Steve Nash (leg) and Steve Blake (abdominal injury) both out and has turned to Chris Duhon. There have been mixed results in Duhon’s three starts. He looked good with 10 assists and zero turnovers in a victory against New Orleans and then was a complete nonfactor against Oklahoma City with just three assists in 36 minutes. The nine-year veteran is with his fourth different team. He has averaged close to 34 minutes over the last five contests.

TRENDS:

* Under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings.
* Lakers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight Sunday games.
* Jazz are 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 road games.
* Over is 6-1 in Lakers last seven vs. NBA Northwest foes.

BUZZER BEATERS:

 
1. Los Angeles is 20-5 against the Jazz at the Staples Center.

2. Utah connected on 13 3-pointers in the win over Toronto, two shy of the franchise record.

3. Lakers F Pau Gasol could miss his fourth straight contest due to tendinitis in both knees.




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