Jazz-Trail Blazers Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- The Utah Jazz are much better at home than on the road, but visiting the Portland Trail Blazers may help them pick up a victory away from Salt Lake City.
The Jazz make a brief stop as a visitor as they try to sweep this home-and-home set with the Trail Blazers and run their series winning streak to six games Saturday night.
Utah (26-21) averages 100.5 points while going 17-5 at home, but is not as effective on the road, compiling a 9-16 record with 95.8 points per game.
Thanks to a home-heavy, 12-game portion of their schedule, the Jazz have built some impressive momentum. They're 6-2 over the first stretch, dropping their lone road game.
After visiting the Trail Blazers, Utah opens a three-game homestand against Sacramento on Monday.
The Jazz's success at home continued Friday, when they beat the Blazers 86-77 while holding them to 36.7 percent from the field. However, the venue hasn't made much of a difference against Portland (23-23).
The Jazz have won 10 of the past 13 meetings with their Northwest Division rival, including a 5-1 record at the Rose Garden, while hitting 48.3 percent from the floor - 42.1 from beyond the arc - with an average of 100.8 points.
They took the most recent visit 112-91 on April 18, despite Al Jefferson making just 4 of 14 field goals to finish with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The big man was much better Friday, scoring 21 with 10 boards while sinking 10 of 22 from the floor. He's topped 20 points in three of the past four games, averaging 19.5.
"You get him the ball in the post one-on-one against anybody in this league and we feel good about our chances," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "What's encouraging is now Al is making passes to his teammates, so it's making it more difficult for teams to lock in on him."
Gordon Hayward has totaled 43 points over the last two games at Portland, however, he's doubtful after missing a third game in a row with a sprained right shoulder.
The Blazers are trying to re-establish their momentum following Friday's defeat, which came after they won three of four to come out of a season-high six-game slide.
"We had trouble scoring. We missed easy baskets, but you have those nights," coach Terry Stotts said Friday. "They are a physical team in the paint and protect the paint very well so spacing becomes more important."
Each of their last three victories have come at home while averaging 102.3 points on 49.4 percent shooting.
"Portland is an explosive team," Corbin said. "They are capable of scoring a lot of points in a short period of time."
That's partly due to LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers' leader with 20.5 points per game. He struggled Friday, though, making 6 of 17 from the floor to finish with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
He's averaging 26.0 points over his last three home meetings with the Jazz, missing the latest one with a sore right hip.
Rookie Damian Lillard is looking to build on his 26 points in his first meeting with Utah. That matched his total from the previous two contests.
The Trail Blazers may be without Wes Matthews after he severely rolled his right ankle on a drive to the hoop and exited with nine points in the third quarter Friday. Locker room X-rays were negative, but his status is unclear.
Matthews is averaging 25.0 points in four home meetings with the Jazz.
Updated February 2, 2013