Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 13th 2024

The Utah Jazz are in the midst of an impressive roll and the Los Angeles Lakers are in a deep funk.

Utah will strive to win its fifth straight game and 11th in the past 13 when it hosts the Lakers on Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz own their first four-game winning streak of the season and all of the victories have been by double digits. The largest margin was Friday night’s 145-113 beatdown of the visiting Toronto Raptors.

Utah also has posted road wins over the powerful Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks of the Eastern Conference and notched a home win over the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets during the four-game stretch.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles has dropped 10 of its past 14 games and stands one game below .500 entering its 40th game of the season.

The Lakers were whipped at home 127-109 by the Phoenix Suns on Thursday and had few answers on defense as Bradley Beal scored a season-high 37 for Phoenix and Devin Booker added 31. Los Angeles also committed 18 turnovers.

Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell admitted the club has troubles without a clear path toward correcting them.

“I think it’s just a lot of holes in our system right now,” Russell told reporters. “… I think having a positive energy coming into work, practice and things like that, and getting better from game to game, I think that’s where we start. We look at this (Phoenix) game and get better in ways that we maybe haven’t had to look at throughout the season.

“Right now it’s time to figure it out and do something about it, whatever that may be.”

Los Angeles star LeBron James had just 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting against Phoenix. He is listed as questionable with a left ankle injury for Saturday.

Whether he plays or sits, James sees the Jazz as a troublesome team for the Lakers.

“They historically have one of the best home-court advantages when you go up there,” James said. “Altitude plays a little part in it, so we’ve got to get into the flow early, catch our second wind as quick as possible, and then make them defend.

“But they’re a very good team. They’ve been playing really well.”

Utah dominated in Friday’s win over Toronto as it led by as many as 35 points. The Jazz received 80 points from the bench while registering their seventh straight home victory.

Some members of the starting five also thrived as Lauri Markkanen recorded 22 points and nine rebounds and Collin Sexton added 20 points.

The Jazz had a commanding 56-31 rebounding edge, while coach Will Hardy was impressed with seeing 34 assists on the stat sheet.

“We had five players with five or more assists,” Hardy said. “The ball is really moving around. I think everybody feels that they’re involved in what we’re doing.”

Kelly Olynyk certainly feels that way. The veteran big man had 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in just 21 minutes.

Olynyk hasn’t forgetten that the Jazz were underdogs against Detroit when the Pistons entered their contest with a 24-game losing streak. Three-plus weeks later, Utah is one of the hottest teams in the league.

“Now that we’ve played with each other for 40 games, now you’re seeing that we learned to play with each other,” Olynyk said. “We learned that connectiveness and cohesiveness, where people want the ball and how we can help each other be successful and I think that is starting to show.”

The Lakers have won the past three meetings, including a 131-99 home rout on Nov. 21. Anthony Davis had 26 points and 16 rebounds as one of seven Los Angeles players in double digits.

Davis (ankle) is probable for Saturday’s rematch.

–Field Level Media

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