Jazz aim for payback against Lakers
The Utah Jazz will look for some payback in the second of back-to-back games against the host Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.
The Lakers posted a 127-115 overtime victory on Saturday, led by Andre Drummond’s 27 points, along with his eight rebounds. Point guard Dennis Schroder finished with 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
However, Utah head coach Quin Snyder rested Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley Jr. and Derrick Favors with his team playing in the second of back-to-back games after a home win against the Indiana Pacers on Friday.
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell also did not play Saturday due to a right ankle sprain that will keep him out for the next several games.
The expectation is that Gobert, Conley Jr. and Favors will be available Monday.
“It was a good effort,” said Utah’s Joe Ingles, who finished with 20 points and 14 assists in the loss to the Lakers. “A lot of guys who don’t usually play, played heavy minutes and did a good job. I think we can take a lot of good stuff from that.”
Specifically, the return of Gobert, one of the best defensive centers in the league, should provide a lift inside. The Jazz were outrebounded 52-37 by the Lakers on Saturday.
Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, who finished with a team-high 27 points, said his team had a tough time matching up to L.A.’s bigger lineup, with Drummond taking up space inside.
“Once we get guys back healthy, I think we’ll do a good job of holding that paint down and stopping them from getting easy baskets,” Clarkson said.
Los Angeles finally is starting to figure out how to win games on a more consistent basis with LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (calf) still recovering from injuries. The goal is that both players will be back on the court before the regular season concludes next month.
The Lakers have won five of their past 10 games and finished 4-3 on a recent seven-game trip without their two superstars.
“We’re getting healthy at the right time, and it’s perfect for us,” Lakers forward Markieff Morris said. “With this crazy season and with all these games — back-to-back games and days in between, without our two best players we held it down for the most part.
“Now we’re getting them back fully healthy and ready to make some noise.”
Schroder has taken on more of a leadership role on both ends of the floor with James and Davis out. Over the past 10 games, Schroder is averaging 15.6 points and 7.8 assists a contest.
The 27-year-old also is playing through nagging injuries, including an infected foot that limits his mobility.
“Dennis is a competitor,” Drummond said. “I’ve played against Dennis his whole career, and I’ve got a chance to watch him and play against him, and he’s always been that way his whole career.
“And to be his teammate now and see it first-hand, he’s an incredible player. He doesn’t give up. He plays every possession like it’s his last. And defensively he’s far more advanced than people give him credit for.”
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