The Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz have gotten off to difficult starts to the 2012-2013 NBA season. At 1-3, both teams are in last place of their respective division.
The rough start is much more surprising for L.A. The Lakers began the year as the favorites in the Western Conference, but have struggled out of the gate. Adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to a lineup that includes Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol hasn’t translated to immediate success.
Other than losing their first three games, L.A. has experienced injury trouble. Nash went down against the Trail Blazers with a small fracture in his leg, and will be out for at least a week, and possibly more.
Steve Blake will get his third straight start at point guard on Wednesday night, as the Lakers visit the Jazz. The game is set to tip-off at 9:30 p.m. ET at EnergySolutions Arena. You can watch a live stream online by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband.
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Los Angeles finally won their first game, defeating Detroit by 29 points. After losing three straight to start the season, L.A. avoided disaster by beating a winless Pistons team.
“We needed this bad, just to change the mood and give us some of that feel-good feeling," said Blake. "Losing games was tough. I guess we did a good job of staying positive, but it feels good, that's for sure."
Bryant has been the biggest positive of the Lakers season, thus far. He’s second in the league, averaging 26.8 points per game. He’s been more efficient than he’s been in his entire career, hitting just short of 60 percent of his shots.
L.A.’s defense has let itself down in the first four games of the season. They’ve allowed 99.8 points per game. Howard doesn’t seem 100 percent healed from his back surgery, and hasn’t been dominant in the paint like he was with the Orlando Magic.
Utah will look to take advantage of Los Angeles’ struggles on defense to break their three-game losing streak. Like the Lakers, the Jazz still need time to gel. Two-fifths of their starting lineup wasn’t on the team last season.
Mo Williams and Marvin Williams came to Utah in the offseason. Mo Williams has fit it nicely, leading the team with 20.8 points and 6.8 assists per contest. Coming over from the Atlanta Hawks, Marvin Williams has had a more difficult transition. His scoring, assist and rebound averages are his lowest since his rookie year.
Before the season, the Lakers might have been expected to win this game, even on the road. With their rough start, L.A. is a three-point underdog in Utah, according to the consensus betting line in Las Vegas.
Prediction: The Lakers picked up a win in their last game, but they beat the Pistons, who may be the worst team in basketball. The Jazz have also been struggling with new players, so this game could come down to the wire. With both teams having a tough time in the early going, the club with the talent advantage should come out on top. Expect the Lakers to win a close one.
Prediction: Los Angeles 99, Utah 97