Preview: Lakers at Utah Jazz

The Lakers (14-41) can build a rare winning streak on Wednesday night when they visit the Utah Jazz (21-34).

After seven-straight losses, the Lakers finally got a win on Sunday over the Boston Celtics.  The Jazz are coming off a big win over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Lakers will play without Nick Young, out with a swollen knee.

The team will also miss Ronnie Price (elbow), Kobe Bryant (shoulder), Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back), who are all done for the season.

Alec Burks (shoulder) is out for the year with the Jazz.

Utah just beat the San Antonio Spurs, and while they aren't likely to be a playoff team this year, the Jazz boast a competitive squad.

Key matchup

While Rudy Gobert is averaging just 6.8 points a game, the young center has emerged as one of the best defenders in the paint.

Through 15 games in January, Gobert averaged 9.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.1 rebounds.  Those numbers have dipped slightly in February to 6.8, 8.5 and 2.8, respectively -- but he's a presence the Lakers are going to have to respect.

The Jazz recently traded Enes Kanter to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a sign that Gobert alongside forward/center Derrick Favors, represents the team's future.

Carlos Boozer will start for the Lakers at power forward.  If he has an advantage over the bigger, stronger pair of Gobert/Favors, it's his experience and high-arching jump shot.

Of course Boozer isn't nearly the same force defensively, and the Lakers in general this season have struggled to stop other teams from scoring.

X-factor

Gordon Hayward is Utah's leading scorer at 19.6 points a game.  He's also a capable play-maker at 4.2 assists a night, with a strong outside shot (38.8% from three-point range).

The Lakers will need significant support from Jeremy Lin, given the team is down to just three guards with Jordan Clarkson and Wayne Ellington.

Over the past two games, Lin is averaging 21.5 points and four assists a game while shooting 16 for 24 from the field (66.7%).

Outlook

The Lakers will have a difficult time, short-handed on the road against the Jazz on Wednesday night.

Email Eric Pincus at Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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