Jazz, Lakers look to overcome injuries
LOS ANGELES — Injuries remain sore points for the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers. Both will attempt to overcome them when they meet Monday night at Staples Center
Point guard Jose Calderon (right hamstring strain) was the latest Laker to come up lame. Calderon, who hurt himself in Saturday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, won't play against the Jazz. Calderon was starting for the injured D'Angelo Russell (sore right knee). Russell isn't expected back for at least another week.
In addition, the Lakers again will be without Nick Young (strained left calf), who is possibly on the shelf for another one to three weeks.
Lakers forward Larry Nance (right knee contusion), who missed Saturday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, is listed as questionable for Monday's contest. Nance sat out Saturday after being injured late in Friday's rout by the Toronto Raptors.
Still, the Lakers (10-12) continue to carry a positive vibe with their surprising start.
“Having the injuries we had, it would've been easy to just give in (Saturday),” said Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the loss to the Grizzlies, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Our guys really competed and played hard. Down the stretch they got to a couple loose balls that turned into big plays. We had our chances. On the road in the NBA, that's really all you can ask for is to have a chance to win the game.”
Despite some key contributors ailing, the Jazz (12-9) have won five of their last six games. Their latest triumph was a 105-98 decision over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. Utah almost blew a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter before securing the victory. Gordon Hayward scored 21 of his 32 points in the third quarter to pace the Jazz. It was the third straight game the 6-8 forward has topped 30 points.
“I found some energy after halftime,” said Hayward, who leads the team in scoring at 22.8 points per game, according to DeseretNews. com. “I think we really started to guard. I was able to get some easy shots, some open looks and then the basket gets a little wider when you knock down a couple in a row.”
Utah prevailed without point guard George Hill (toe) and forward Derrick Favors. Hill won't play against the Lakers, missing his third game in a row, but could return Tuesday night when the Jazz plays the Phoenix Suns.
Hill's production has been missed. He is scoring 20 points per game, second to Hayward. He also is shooting 53.4 percent from the floor and 45.6 percent from 3-point range.
Favors has been troubled with a knee problem for much of the season. He missed the previous nine games and is expected to return against the Lakers.
Forward Alec Burks also has been unavailable for Utah. Burks underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery in November and is out indefinitely.
The absences haven't hurt the production of center Rudy Gobert. Gobert is averaging 10.6 points and 11 rebounds per game (seventh in the NBA). Gobert is the league leader in field-goal percentage at 64.2. He is third in blocks with an average of 2.52.
Utah won the initial encounter 96-89 on Oct. 27 at Salt Lake City.