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
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
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
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
The Jazz had won four straight over the Lakers before losing the
last meeting, 102-84 on Jan. 25 in Los Angeles.