The Los Angeles Lakers season is on a fast, downward spiral.
Midway through the season, the team has no realistic chance of catching the L.A. Clippers and winning the Pacific Division. The Lakers still have a chance to sneak into the playoffs as the eighth or seventh seed, but even those hopes are fading. They trail the Houston Rockets by four games for the last spot in the postseason.
Los Angeles is closer to the bottom of the conference than they are to the last playoff team. They have just a three-game lead over the New Orleans Hornets, who sit in last place in the West with a 14-28 record.
If L.A. wants any shot of reaching the postseason, they’ll have to start beating teams that are in front of them. One of those clubs is the Utah Jazz.
Utah currently sits in seventh place in the West and six games better than L.A. at 23-19. On Friday night, the two teams are set to square off at Staples Center at 7:30 p.m. pacific time. Viewers can watch a live stream of the event online by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband.
L.A. is looking to snap a four-game losing streak. They should get a boost by returning home for the first time in over a week. The Lakers are two games above .500 in front of their home fans, but 5-15 on the road.
Dwight Howard left the team’s last contest after reinjuring his shoulder. The center’s initial diagnosis was day-to-day, but reports indicate that he will start against Utah.
Howard played in both of the Lakers two previous meetings with the Jazz, though it didn’t help much. Utah won both games by at least seven points, and hasn’t lost to Los Angeles in their last four games.
Pau Gasol is, once again, expected to come off the bench. He didn’t play the last two times that the team’s met, when Kobe Bryant led all scored with 34 points, but to no avail.
Betting Line: Los Angeles -5, 205
Prediction: In two games, the Lakers have yet to prove that they can beat the Jazz. With a seemingly unhappy Gasol and Howard, and Mike D’Antoni unable to put the Lakers players in a position to win, they haven’t shown any indication that they will beat the Jazz on Friday.
Predicted Score: Utah 103, Los Angeles 99