The Lakers have already taken two of three games from the Jazz this season, with the lone loss coming in Salt Lake City where Utah is a league best 28-3 at Energy Solutions Arena. However, L.A. exacted revenge on the Jazz in their last meeting on Dec. 28 by winning 123-109, making up for the 120-96 drubbing Utah gave them the last time the Lakers played them on the road. In that game, a total of six Lakers scored in double figures, led by Kobe’s 31 and Odom’s 17. Deron Williams—usually a Lakers killer—had one of his worst games of the season, scoring only six points to go along with six assists, both numbers well below his 19 point, 10 assist average for the season.
Despite maintaining a firm grasp on the Northwest Division lead, the Jazz have been somewhat up and down in their last 12 games, with big wins over title contenders in Detroit, Phoenix, Dallas and Boston somewhat diluted by puzzling losses to Chicago and most recently, New Jersey.
Still, Utah figures to be a major player in the post-season, with Carlos Boozer’s 22 points and 11 rebounds and William’s impressive third-year stats giving the Jazz the perfect one-two combo to match up against the West’s exceptional line of big men and point guards. Utah also has a strong group of role players to complement their Big Two, highlighted by Andrei Kirilenko, Ronnie Brewer and relative newcomer, Kyle Korver, making his first appearance against the Lakers in his new uniform.
While the Lakers have created some distance between themselves and the Jazz in the Western Conference standings, there is still a chance that Utah could catch L.A., thereby giving them home court advantage in a potential playoff series.