Once the hunted the Los Angeles Lakers are now the hunters as they try to catch the red-hot Utah Jazz in the Western Conference. The teams square off for the first time this season in the back end of ESPN’s Wednesday doubleheader. Beating Utah without Anthony Davis makes the task more challenging. The Lakers have dropped three straight for the first time this season and take on a Utah squad that’s doing everything right. The Jazz have won 21 of 23 games to take over as the NBA’s overall leader and they’ve won 14 in a row at home. Bookmaker.eu offers a generous welcome bonus (max bonus $1600)
Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz
Date and Time: Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 10 p.m. ET
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Opening NBA Odds: Jazz -8.5/Total 219
Lakers at Jazz TV Coverage: ESPN
The Lakers are going through a rough patch and facing the Jazz isn’t the most ideal situation. But it’s what the schedule says and don’t think for a minute LA is going to cave. Heck, they may be more inspired against the best team in the league. The Lakers certainly need to play better than they have during their three-game losing streak that included setbacks to Miami and Washington, two sub-.500 teams. Maybe getting out of LA will help. The Lakers own the best road record in the NBA at 13-3 while going 9-7 ATS. Break up the Jazz. Early last month following a loss to the Knicks they were 4-4. Whatever happened after that game sure worked. Utah has won 21 of 23 since going 20-3 ATS. They’ve won 14 straight home games going 13-1 ATS in that span.
Los Angeles Lakers
I guess it isn’t a coincidence that the slide started when Davis got hurt. Including that loss to Denver when Davis injured his calf, the Lakers are 1-4 SU and ATS. And if the loss of a superstar big man who can do just about everything on the court was bad enough, the Lakers are also missing point guard Dennis Schroeder, who remains in the league’s COVID related health and safety protocol. There are a lot of folks out there who think LeBron James can do it all by himself, and James is one of them, but it’s obvious he can’t.
James had 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds in the most recent loss, 127-124 to Detroit in overtime. He missed a free throw late in regulation that would have given the Lakers the lead and he misfired on a potential game-tying triple at the end of overtime. It might benefit the Lakers to sit James a game or two since he’s averaging 35 minutes a game. That would allow the rest of the team to take care of business while not having to worry about deferring to James. And the Lakers have depth that will help them out of this funk sooner than later.
If you saw a run like this coming you’re a bigger Jazz fan than Satchmo Armstrong. Back in early January the Jazz were in the middle of a six-game road trip that saw them lose by 34 to Brooklyn and by 12 points to the Knicks on consecutive days leaving their record at 4-4. They certainly didn’t look like the best team in the league. Well, fast forward 23 games later and the Jazz are the best team in the NBA. They won 21 of those 23 games with their only setbacks at Denver and the Clippers, two of the biggest threats in the West, and they are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 outings.
The Jazz posted another blowout win on Monday knocking off Charlotte 132-110, despite committing 21 turnovers. Their last six wins have all been by double digits and their point differential of plus-9.6 is 2.5 points per game more than the second-best team. There is a lot we can talk about but the most noteworthy is their three-point shooting. The Jazz set a team record with 28 triples in 55 attempts against the Hornets and they lead the NBA in both categories while having the third-best percentage. However, Donovan Mitchell credited the team’s defense with sparking a comeback against Charlotte.
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It’s obvious the Lakers are a different team without Davis and they’ll be without Schroeder again. That’s enough to put them as a big dog in this game. I didn’t see LA losing three in a row, but without two key contributors dropping four straight is a distinct possibility. The Jazz have played so well for so long you almost expect them to screw it up at some point. But this is a huge game for them against the defending champs and I like Utah to get the cover.
NBA Score Prediction: Jazz 118, Lakers 108
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