(Photo By: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Lakers vs. Jazz: 3 Things to Know (4/7/19)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers host the Utah Jazz in the penultimate game of the season.
1) AC put on a show last time out
Nobody has made more of their opportunity recently than Alex Caruso, who went from playing most of the season in the G League to dropping 32 points in Friday’s win over the Clippers.
Caruso — who also had a career-high 10 rebounds and played great defense — was absolutely electrifying, hitting 10-of-17 from the field, 5-of-7 from deep and 7-of-7 at the foul line.
After another eruption from beyond the arc, the sophomore is now up to a sizzling 53.3 percent on treys this season — a massive upgrade from his 30.2 percent clip last year.
Caruso was also clutch against the Clippers, hitting all five of his fourth-quarter shots toward 13 of his points. This included two last-minute layups to seal victory for his squad.
2) Basketball Jones is doing his thing
AC isn’t the only South Bay product stepping into the NBA limelight. Recent call-up Jemerrio Jones has showed the Lakers plenty of grit in his first foray into basketball’s top league.
Sixth in the G League in rebounding this season (and second in the NCAA last year), Jones has hustled his way to 17 boards in the Lakers’ last two games.
He’s also taken on some of the NBA’s most challenging defensive assignments in those contests, including Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Lou Williams.
And while Jones is far from a score-first player, the Lakers still trusted him to execute a crunch-time play against the Clippers, having him fake a screen before cutting inside for a bouncy slam.
3) Utah’s bruising (yet also bruised)
On the other side of the floor will be the NBA’s hottest team, as the Jazz have won seven straight and 12 of their last 13.
Utah has been absolutely dominant over the last three weeks, picking up those dozen wins with a whopping 17.4 average margin of victory. The Jazz have played elite ball on both sides of the floor during this stretch, leading the NBA in defensive rating (100.4) and ranking second in offensive rating (117.3).
Almost certainly locked into a first-round playoff series with Portland, Utah will look to regain its health. Its injury list is lengthy, as Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors and Kyle Korver are among five players out for this contest. But the Jazz maintain plenty of firepower.
Rudy Gobert in on an eight-game double-double streak, and ranks among the NBA’s top five in rebounds and blocks, while leading it in field goal percentage. And that’s not even considering his Defensive Player of the Year candidacy or his NBA-record 296 dunks.
Meanwhile, Donovan Mitchell has caught fire post-All-Star Break, averaging 26.1 points while splashing 44.9 percent of his 3-pointers. Lethal off the dribble and from downtown, the sophomore has ascended to third among shooting guards in scoring.
Plus, Joe Ingles came a rebound shy of a triple-double against the Lakers two weeks ago, and rookie Grayson Allen is coming off a 23-point performance against Sacramento.
Lakers: Reggie Bullock (neck stiffness) is questionable. LeBron James (sore left groin), Kyle Kuzma (left foot peroneal tendinitis), Brandon Ingram (thoracic outlet decompression, right arm), Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) and Josh Hart (right knee debridement procedure) are out.
Jazz: Jae Crowder (right quad contusion) is questionable. Ricky Rubio (left quad contusion), Derrick Favors (back spasms), Kyle Korver (knee), Raul Neto (left ankle soreness) and Dante Exum (torn patellar tendon) are out.
Tip-Off: 6:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet in L.A. NBA TV nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: White Association
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California
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