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Lakers-Jazz Preview

Rudy Gobert has anchored the Utah Jazz's massive defensive turnaround, while Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke continue to spark the offense.

They seek their first three-game winning streak Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, who are trying to end the longest road skid in franchise history.

The Jazz (21-34) started 6-19, giving up 102.3 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting, which ranked 29th in the NBA. They've limited opponents to a league-low 93.4 points per game on 43.2 percent - the fourth-lowest - while going 15-15 since.

Utah has won four of five, giving up 90 points or fewer four times.

"Our guys understand that we're trying to build a (defensive) identity," coach Quin Snyder said. "You don't just wake up and say, 'I want to be' or 'I want to do.' It's a long haul. It's a thousand little decisions to put yourself in a position where you're capable. Guys are working - that's really what it all comes down to."

Gobert has been at the forefront of Utah's improvement. He's averaged 25.7 minutes over the last 30 games after previously playing 17.8. He had 14 rebounds and blocked three shots in Monday's 90-81 win over San Antonio, making his second straight start since Enes Kanter was traded.

Gobert is averaging 3.9 blocked shots in 10 starts and has held opponents to 37.7 percent shooting at the rim overall, the lowest in the league among players who have appeared in at least 50 games and defend at least 5.0 attempts at the rim per game.

"Rudy's been very good and (he) has an impact. It's more than Rudy," Snyder said. "I'm taking nothing away from Rudy's presence. And his impact is significant. ... (But) everybody's trying to do their part. When you get that, it's no one player."

Though Hayward was 4 for 15 against the Spurs, he's averaging 25.0 points over Utah's last four wins. The Jazz are 7-3 since Jan. 16 when he scores at least 20.

Hayward is averaging 19.6 points, becoming just the third player to increase his scoring average by 2.0 or more in four straight seasons while playing in at least 70 percent of their team's games. He joins Gary Payton (1990-91-1994-95) and Kobe Bryant (1996-97-2000-01).

Though Burke has come off the bench in his last 13 games, he's scored 18-plus six times in that span after doing so seven times in 41 starts.

Hayward has shot at least 50.0 percent in five of six versus Los Angeles and scored 31 on 12-of-18 shooting in a 94-85 home win on Jan. 16.

The Lakers (14-41) ended a seven-game slide in Sunday's 118-111 overtime win over Boston, though they've dropped 11 straight road games since a 111-103 victory at Denver on Dec. 30. Los Angeles is shooting 40.8 percent during that losing streak.

Wayne Ellington is shooting 39.8 percent while taking a team-high 118 shots in that span. Nick Young has shot 32.9 percent over his last 13 road games and is 7 for 28 in his last three.

Young scored 19 against the Celtics while Jeremy Lin had a season-high 25 off the bench. The Lakers are still seeking their first regulation victory since Jan. 9 against Orlando.

"We see how hard we have to play to win," Carlos Boozer said. "We see how everybody has to step their game up and contribute in a major way for us to compete against some of these teams."

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