Lakers risk total implosion

25 January 2013 12:38:36 EST
Dwight Howard joined the Lakers in August but so far his time in LA has been blighted by injury and inconsistent form.

The Los Angeles Lakers return home to the Staples Center on Friday to await the visit of the Utah Jazz.

With rumors swirling about the possible trade of Dwight Howard after a poor first season in LA, the center is expected to play despite a continuing right shoulder injury. Wednesday Howard had just 2 points in 14 minutes of work as the Lakers lost 106-93 to the Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. Kobe Bryant led the way with 29 points, but the acquisitions of Howard and point guard Steve Nash to pair with Bryant and Pau Gasol have so far been little more than a disaster.

Four games behind the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers, LA seems unlikely to close the gap despite the one curious stat on their season; even with a 17-25 record, the Lakers still have a positive point differential. By contrast Friday's opponent, the Jazz, are 23-19 and six games ahead of their hosts in the standings with a poorer mark.

The Lakers are 10/11 to secure the win in the point spread (-4.5), while the Jazz (+4.5) can be backed at 10/11.

The two sides with the best differential in the league both play in the Western Conference and are in action on Friday. The Oklahoma City Thunder continue their west coast swing in Sacramento before heading down to LA to play the Lakers on Sunday while the San Antonio Spurs make the short trip to the American Airlines Center in Dallas to face the Mavericks. The visitors have won their two previous meetings with the Mavericks this season and nothing in their respective recent form would suggest anything other than a seventh consecutive win for the Spurs.

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