Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drives to the hoop vs UTA

Lakers vs. Jazz, Three Things to Know: April 17, 2021

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

The Lakers (34-22) are poised to take on the Utah Jazz (42-14) on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.

Below are three things to know about the matchup:

WHO’S IN, WHO’S OUT?
That’s been the question for the Lakers for much of the last two months ... Saturday’s game is no different, as Marc Gasol (volar plate fracture, left pinkie finger) and Markieff Morris (left ankle sprain) are both questionable. The probable tag goes to several other Lakers: Andre Drummond (right big toe contusion); Kyle Kuzma (left calf strain); Wesley Matthews (right Achilles tendon tightness) and Dennis Schroder (infection, right foot). LeBron (right ankle sprain) and Anthony Davis (right calf strain) remain out, though Davis has been cleared for full on-court activity, and Vogel didn’t rule him out for Monday’s game, also against the Jazz.

Meanwhile, Utah just lost Donovan Mitchell to an ankle sprain in Utah’s Friday afternoon win against Indiana. They’ve yet to make a determination about his availability, but considering that he needed help walking off the floor, it’d be a surprise if he were available to play on either Saturday or Monday. Meanwhile, reserve big Derrick Favors also missed their last game due to a sore knee.

UTAH’S INJURY LUCK
The Jazz no doubt have a talented roster and an elite coach in Quinn Snyder, but they’ve also benefitted tremendously from roster stability and health. They brought back their top eight rotation players from 2019-20, and re-signed Favors, who spent the bulk of his career with Snyder before one year in New Orleans. In fact, they’ve lost only 15 games to starters this season, and much of those have been rest days for Mike Conley, Jr., the 13-year veteran who’s missed 11 games. We’ll see how long Mitchell is out, as his absence certainly goes counter to what they’ve experienced this season.

The Lakers, in contrast, replaced four key rotation players from their championship squad, and have lost an almost ridiculous 68 games to injury with their starters alone, most notably 33 from Davis and 15 from LeBron.

THT THE KEY
In the absence of LeBron and AD in particular, the Lakers have needed somebody else to break down the defense aside from Dennis Schroder, and that man has been Talen Horton-Tucker, the talented 20-year-old from Chicago. Coming off a 19-point, 7-assist, 6-rebound, 3-steal, 2-turnover game against Boston, THT is averaging 13.9 points, 4.4 assists and 3.4 boards with 2.1 steals in April. He’s holding down the second unit offense some nights, and starting other nights, and making sure to compete defensively regardless. He’s grown considerably this season, and that will pay dividends moving forward.

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