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Lakers Face Jazz In Utah In Battle Of Division Leaders

The Los Angeles Lakers begin their post-Thanksgiving schedule with a battle of Western Conference division leaders as they travel to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz. Both teams are working on winning streaks, as the 11-5 Jazz have won their last three games, while the 13-2 Lakers are on a five-game winning streak. The Lakers have won seven of their last 10 regular season games against the Jazz, but are just 4-6 in their last 10 regular season games in Utah.

In the offseason, the Lakers pursued Raja Bell to be a part of their bench, but Bell was pursued harder by Utah, who signed him before Bell had a scheduled meeting with Kobe Bryant. The Lakers ended up filling their ex-Kobe-nemesis role by signing Matt Barnes, and so far the results have heavily favored the Lakers

Matt Barnes vs. Raja Bell
Player Min FG% 3Pt% Pts Reb Ast
Barnes 21.8 .490 .462 9.4 5.6 2.5
Bell 29.1 .408 .306 7.8 2.7 1.3

Bell has played 436 minutes compared to 327 minutes for Barnes, yet Barnes has more total points, roughly double the rebounds and assists, and just one fewer steal than Bell. We are only 15 games into the season, way to early to call a deal a success, but that the Lakers have Barnes instead of Bell has worked out great so far for the Lakers.

The Jazz (46.1%) and Lakers (46.9%) are first and second in the NBA in lowest opponent effective field goal percentage this season. The Lakers (82.1%, second) and Jazz (80.0%) are two of four teams in the league shooting free throws at 80% or higher. Tonight's 6 p.m. PST game will be televised by KCAL.

For more Lakers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.