Lakers-Jazz Preview

Though his team lost again, Pau Gasol was pleased by how the Los

Angeles Lakers played on Christmas. Now it’s uncertain if he’ll be

around to help them build on the performance.

The Lakers may have had some extra motivation in their last

game, facing the defending champions on national television, but

Gasol hopes they bring a similar effort against the Western

Conference-worst Utah Jazz on Friday night in Salt Lake City.

Even if he can’t be a part of it.

The veteran 7-footer is listed as day-to-day and reportedly did

not travel with the team to Utah due to an upper respiratory

infection which caused him to miss a game last week. The Lakers

return home to face Philadelphia on Sunday.

Gasol seemed to be doing fine on Christmas, when he had 13

points and 13 rebounds in 29 minutes of a 101-95 loss to Miami.

The Lakers (13-16) led the two-time reigning NBA champs by 10

points and never trailed by double digits despite playing without

Kobe Bryant (knee) or point guards Steve Nash (back) and Steve

Blake (elbow).

It was a significantly better performance than the previous two

games for the Lakers, who lost 102-83 at Golden State on Saturday

and 117-90 at Phoenix two nights later.

Gasol sat out Saturday with the illness and played a season-low

20 minutes Monday.

“We need to just build on the same intensity and effort and

concentration that we put in (Wednesday) and carry it to the next

game and don’t fall back into the bad habits of the last two games

against Golden State and Phoenix,” Gasol said. “We need to really

bounce back in Utah. We have a good chance to get a nice road win

and that’s what we’re gonna try to do.”

His potential absence, though, could hurt a Los Angeles team

which has a league-worst minus-5.0 rebounding margin. Utah is among

the worst at minus-2.9 and has been outrebounded in eight of the

last nine games.

As Los Angeles tries to avoid a season-high fourth straight

loss, the Jazz (8-23) look to halt their worst home losing streak

since the 2010-11 season.

The Jazz have dropped four straight home games, but three

defeats came to elite teams – Indiana, Portland and San Antonio –

while the other came in overtime to Sacramento. They’re returning

from a 2-3 road swing.

Utah has been struggling offensively, averaging 88.5 points in

the last six games on 41.2 percent shooting. The Jazz were better

Monday in a 104-94 loss at Memphis to close the trip, shooting 46.7

percent overall and 11 of 24 from 3-point range.

“I thought the effort was there. We’re trying,” coach Tyrone

Corbin said. “We had some lulls in there, but the guys are

fighting, and, as a result, we had chances in the ballgame. We just

couldn’t get over the hump.”

Rookie Trey Burke had 18 points after totaling five in the

previous two losses on the trip, compared to 50 in the two

wins.

Gordon Hayward came up one assist shy of his first career

triple-double Monday but struggled with his shot on the trip,

hitting 32.8 percent from the field while averaging 12.2

points.

Conversely, the Lakers’ Nick Young has been on a tear. He’s 19

of 38 from 3-point range over the past six games, averaging 20.8

points.

The Jazz had won four straight over the Lakers before losing the

last meeting, 102-84 on Jan. 25 in Los Angeles.