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Jazz chasing rare road win in game vs. Lakers

Jan 17, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) defends Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) in the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a 6-0 homestand, the Utah Jazz will test their mettle on the road Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

But the Jazz also enter the game with five consecutive road defeats, including a 101-95 loss to the Lakers on Jan. 17. Those road issues came in January amid a limited roster.

Donovan Mitchell missed eight games because of a concussion, with seven of those in January. Utah went 2-6 when he was out. Rudy Gobert missed five January games after testing positive for COVID-19. Utah went 1-4.

Gobert was out again for nine consecutive games Jan. 24-Feb. 11 with a left-calf strain, but he returned in Monday’s 135-101 blowout home victory over the Houston Rockets. He had 14 points before he was ejected after receiving two technical fouls. Mitchell had a team-leading 30 points while Bojan Bogdanovic had 22.

“I felt strong, I feel great,” Gobert said. “I did some pretty explosive movement without thinking about it. I didn’t have any extra pain.”

Mike Conley scored just two points Monday on 1-of-8 shooting but had 10 assists.

“I think it’s really important for the whole team to know that you have the ability to impact the game even if you’re not scoring,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “When it’s not going down, what can you do to help the team win? Mike’s play (Monday) showed that.”

The Lakers and Jazz will face each other just one more time after Wednesday, a March 31 clash at Utah. The Lakers have won the season series over the Jazz just once since 2010-11.

Los Angeles could use a victory any way it can get it. The Lakers enter Wednesday’s game on a three-game losing streak and have dropped seven of their last nine, including 117-115 at Golden State on Saturday.

Like the Jazz, the Lakers also were short-handed in January when Anthony Davis concluded a 17-game absence because of a knee injury. LeBron James recently missed five games because of his own knee issue.

Unlike the Jazz, though, the Lakers have not found success after the return of their stars. James has been back for four games, but the team has still lost each of the last three. He had 26 against the Warriors in a defeat that did show some promise. Russell Westbrook scored 19 on 7-of-13 shooting.

“This (loss) definitely hurts,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “But overall, I love how our guys competed.”

The only accomplishment to celebrate of late was James passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most points in NBA history, when combining the regular season and playoffs, with 44,157. James is third in regular-season points (36,526) but is within reach of No. 2 Karl Malone (36,928) and leader Abdul-Jabbar (38,387).

Anthony Davis, who had 16 points against the Warriors, is confident the Lakers are on the brink of a breakthrough.

“Guys had a little more swag (Saturday), a little more confidence, more energy, played with more of a purpose,” Davis said. “If we can play like this for the rest of the season, we’ll continue to put ourselves in position to be successful.”

–Field Level Media

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