After settling for a split of their four-game road trip, the Northwest Division-leading Utah Jazz look to match their franchise-record 19-game home winning streak as they face the road-weary Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
The Jazz (44-24), who have a three-game lead over second-place Denver, extended their run at home to 18 games on March 8 by routing the Nuggets 132-105. That moved Utah within one home win of the record set from Jan. 19-March 29, 1996.
Utah is an NBA-best 28-3 at EnergySolutions Arena this season, and will play 10 of its remaining 14 games in Salt Lake City, where it hasn't lost since a 104-98 defeat to league-leading Boston on Dec. 29. However, the team is coming off a 117-115 loss at New Jersey on Saturday after Richard Jefferson hit a running jumper with 1.5 seconds to go in the finale of a four-game swing that was highlighted by a double-digit win on Friday over the Celtics.
"We had shots we felt we could make," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We took them but didn't make them."
Carlos Boozer was outstanding against the Nets, making 15 of 19 shots from the floor and 11 of 13 free throws to equal his career high of 41 points, while grabbing nine rebounds. The All-Star forward's season-high scoring output came after he averaged just 15.7 points in the previous three games.
He leads the team with a career-high 21.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
Boozer is averaging 27.0 points and 14.0 boards in the last three games against the Raptors (34-32), including a 35-point performance in the last meeting at Utah - a 101-96 win on Nov. 20, 2006. He had 23 points and 14 rebounds in a 92-88 win at Toronto on Nov. 14, helping the Jazz to their fifth consecutive victory in the all-time series.
This time, Boozer may not have to contend with Chris Bosh, the Raptors' leader with 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. The forward has missed nine consecutive games with a sore right knee and Toronto has only managed to win two of those contests. The Raptors are 4-10 overall without him this season.
With Bosh potentially out again, Toronto will try to salvage a win on its five-game, seven-day road trip after losing 106-100 to Sacramento on Sunday for its fourth straight loss.
"We've got to come out (against the Jazz) with a sense of urgency," said Raptors swingman Jason Kapono, who had 26 points against the Kings. "We've got to get back on track because it's playoff time. We can't go splitting games or going two or three games.
"We have to go in with the mind-set that we can win all five games."
Despite the slide, the Raptors - who finished atop the Atlantic Division last season - are fifth in the Eastern Conference, one-half game ahead of Washington, which faces Atlanta earlier on Monday.
Toronto's Rasho Nesterovic has been solid over the last two games, shooting 63.0 percent (17-for-27) to total 35 points as a forward. Normally a reserve center, Nesterovic is averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 boards over the last nine games since being moved into the starting lineup due to Bosh's injury.
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