• The Lakers (33-43) head to Utah on Tuesday to take on a Jazz (44-33) team that is surging.

    The Jazz are fighting for playoff position, completely healthy, and playing some of their best basketball of the season right now — having won 25-of-30 games. They are fresh off a dismantling of the Timberwolves, dispatching them 121-97.

    Los Angeles is eliminated from playoff contention and is limping towards the end of the season as they battle a slew of injuries to key players including Lonzo Ball, Isaiah Thomas and Brandon Ingram.

    Without their three primary offensive initiators, the Lakers struggled to produce offensively in their last game, an 84-83 loss at the hands of the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers shot just 40 percent from the floor and the 83 points was their second lowest total of the season.

    The Lakers are not a strong road team, having lost 5-of-6 games and earning only a 14-25 mark for the season. Utah is a difficult place to play as the Jazz hold a 25-13 record at home.

    Julius Randle will have his hands full trying to score against Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, the Jazz’ athletic big man duo. Randle is fresh off of snapping a 10-game streak in which he tallied at least 18 points and 10 rebounds — he will struggle to produce efficiently against Utah’s length.

    If the Lakers are to succeed, they will need a huge game from rookie Kyle Kuzma, who is averaging 16.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.1 3-pointers per game. His range and developed offensive repertiore will be crucial tonight.

    The Jazz have an impressive rookie of their own, 13th overall pick Donovan Mitchell, who leads the Jazz with 20.3 points per game while adding 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals per contest. He is in the midst of a nine-game 20-point streak, a record for Jazz rookies.

    He is joined by Ricky Rubio, who is coming off a 23-point, seven-rebound and three-assist outing in their last victory. After starting the season slow, Rubio has found his rhythm, compiling 18.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.3 steals per game while shooting 44.0 percent over the last month.

    The last line of defense for the Jazz is Rudy Gobert, also known as the Stifle Tower (due to his French nationality, size and prodigious defensive ability). Gobert missed much of the season due to injury but has had a  tremendous impact when healthy — it is no surprise that the Jazz are playing their best ball with him in the lineup. His ability to protect the rim, defend the pick and roll and challenge jump shooters is unique and is the key to Utah’s defensive success. He is averaging 13.7 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game this season.

    The Lakers will have to pull off a remarkable upset tonight to upend the Jazz in what appears to be an extremely challenging matchup on paper. Los Angeles is an 11-point underdog, a line that appears to be quite apt considering their missing pieces and Utah’s recent play.

    Key Stats

    -The Lakers continue to struggle from 3-point range (34.2 percent, 29th) and the free throw line (70.8 percent, 30th) — they will need to be unusually effective from those key areas as the Jazz employ their length and size to very effectively guard the paint. Conversely, Utah is actually quite good at shooting from distance (36.5 percent, 11th) and the charity stripe (78.4 percent, ninth).

    -The Jazz have a defensive rating of 101.9 (tied for second) for the season, however, they have a stellar 94.7 defensive rating (first, by far) over the last 15 games. During that time frame they also have the NBA’s best net rating at plus 13.2. To put that in perspective, the Lakers’ rating during that same stretch is 0.2 (16th).

    -Los Angeles has a significant edge in rebounds per game with 46.4 (second) vs. 43.0 rebounds per game (21st) for Utah. However, the two teams actually record a similar percentage of available rebounds with the Lakers grabbing 50.9 percent (seventh) compared to 50.8 percent (10th) for the Jazz.

    -These two teams play a very different style with the Lakers pushing the rate of play as is indicated with their league-leading 102.75 possessions per 48 minutes compared to 97.64 (25th) for the Jazz. It will be hard for the Lakers to control pace without Ball or Ingram in the lineup.

    -Los Angeles leads the league with 52.4 points per game in the paint but will have a difficult task in maintaining that production against a Utah team that excels at shutting down the lane, allowing only 41.7 points per game (third).

    Projected Starting Lineups

    Lakers

    Alex Caruso (PG)

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)

    Kyle Kuzma (SF)

    Julius Randle (PF)

    Brook Lopez (C)

    Jazz

    Ricky Rubio (PG)

    Donovan Mitchell (SG)

    Joe Ingles (SF)

    Derrick Favors (PF)

    Rudy Robert (C)

    Injury Report

    Lakers

    Brook Lopez (back) – QUESTIONABLE

    Lonzo Ball (left knee contusion) – OUT

    Brandon Ingram (concussion) – OUT

    Luol Deng (ankle) – OUT

    Isaiah Thomas (hip) – OUT

    Jazz

    None

    Broadcast Information

    Time: 6:00 PM PST, 9:00 PM EST

    Television: AT&T SPORTSNET – ROCKY MOUNTAIN, SPECSN/SPECD

    Radio: 97.5 FM, 1280 AM THE ZONE, 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES

Fantasy News

  • Mike Conley
    PG, Utah Jazz

    Mike Conley (hamstring) went through portions of practice on Friday.

    He missed the Jazz's game vs. the Lakers on Wednesday but it looks like he's making progress and could return for their game vs. the Grizzlies tomorrow. If not, Joe Ingles will likely continue to start in his place.

    Source: Erik Waldon on Twitter

  • Ian Mahinmi
    C, Washington Wizards

    Ian Mahinmi (rest) will not suit up for Friday's matchup vs. the Heat.

    It's the second night of a back-to-back for the Wizards and Mahinmi is just returning from a strained achilles injured that kept him out since early October. They're going to be cautious with him due to their lack of depth at center and he could eventually end up serving a nice role for the Wizards this season.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Markieff Morris
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Markieff Morris (neck strain) is being considered questionable heading into Friday's matchup vs. the Pacers.

    He jammed his neck earlier this week but was able to return after coming back from the locker room. He played 15 minutes in Wednesday's game vs. the Bucks but wasn't very productive and even if he does suit up on Friday he shouldn't be in anyone's lineups.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Isaiah Thomas
    PG, Washington Wizards

    Isaiah Thomas (left calf strain) has been ruled out on Friday vs. the Heat.

    This will be his second straight absence as he missed Thursday's game as well. Before injuring his calf, Thomas was coming off of a 20 point, five rebounds, seven assist, two triples and one block outing and may have been starting to turn things around. Hopefully this calf strain doesn't keep him out long but while it does expect Ish Smith to continue to soak up minutes.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Dwight Powell
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    Dwight Powell (arm contusion) will suit up for Saturday's matchup vs. the Pelicans.

    Powell was seen with a black sleeve on his arm but he said that he'll be able to play on Saturday. He's a top-110 guy over the past week and surely starting to make his way back to fantasy relevance. He's a strong hold in most leagues.

    Source: Brad Townsend on Twitter

  • LaMarcus Aldridge
    PF, San Antonio Spurs

    LaMarcus Aldridge (sore thigh) will be available to play vs. the Kings on Friday.

    He'll return after missing his last two matchups and both Jakob Poeltl and Trey Lyles will go back to seeing reduced roles. Feel free to fire Aldridge up in all lineups once again.

    Source: Paul Garcia on Twitter

  • Thaddeus Young
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    Thaddeus Young (personal) has been ruled out on Friday vs. the Warriors.

    He's likely to only miss this game as he's set to meet with the Bulls in Miami for their matchup with the Heat on Sunday. The Bulls are already short-handed with Otto Porter Jr. also continuing to miss time, but good thing they're playing the Warriors where that shouldn't matter.

    Source: KC Johnson on Twitter

  • Otto Porter Jr.
    SF, Chicago Bulls

    Otto Porter (left foot bone edema) underwent a repeat MRI on his left foot and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

    Porter has already missed nearly a month and now two more weeks will be added onto that. He'll be immobilized for a "brief" period of time before resuming non-contact work and therapy. It looks like Porter might not be back until very close, or maybe even after, the new year.

    Source: Chicago Bulls on Twitter

  • Karl-Anthony Towns
    C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Karl-Anthony Towns (right knee tendinopathy) and Andrew Wiggins (left thumb sprain) will both be re-evaluated before Friday's game vs. OKC.

    KAT was listed as probable coming into this one so he's got a good shot of suiting up. However, Wiggins has drawn the questionable tag so his status is much more up in the air for Friday's game. Stay tuned for updates closer to tip-off.

    Source: Alan Horton on Twitter

  • Gordon Hayward
    SF, Boston Celtics

    Coach Brad Stevens believes that Gordon Hayward will be able to return to the court before the Celtics matchup vs. the Raptors on Christmas.

    Hayward has been out since the beginning of November and he was supposed to miss six weeks. We're nearing the tail end of that timetable but the Celtics are likely going to be cautious with him. He looked to be back to his old self before he got injured, averaging 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 31.1 minutes. If he was somehow dropped in your league feel free to scoop him up now.

    Source: Gary Washburn on Twitter