Game Day: Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors (2/2/12)
By Matt Becker
Posted Feb 02 2012 3:03AM
With nearly one-third of their 66-game season complete, the Utah Jazz have played a league-low six road games.
Their schedule is about to start balancing out.
Beginning a stretch of 14 of 20 on the road, Utah goes for the season sweep in Oakland in Thursday night's matchup with the Golden State Warriors.
Despite Wednesday's 107-105 loss to the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers, the Jazz (12-8) have been outstanding at home, winning 10 of 14.
Utah, though, has just two victories outside Salt Lake City, losing four times on the road by at least 15 points.
The Jazz won their first road game of the season on Jan. 7, 88-87 over the Warriors as Gordon Hayward, who finished with a team-best 18 points, hit the go-ahead free throw with 11 seconds left.
Utah will face a Golden State team trying to build off Tuesday's 93-90 victory over Sacramento. Sticking with his reserves for nearly all of the fourth quarter, coach Mark Jackson's gamble to leave Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry on the bench paid off as Brandon Rush finished with four 3-pointers and carried the Warriors (7-12) in the final 12 minutes with 15 of his season-high 20 points.
"Anytime you've got some home-run hitters in that starting lineup, it's a tough decision because you know what you're going to get offensively," Jackson said.
But that really hasn't been the case lately with Ellis - the team leader with 20.8 points per game. He's scored 29 total points on 27.9 percent shooting over the last three games.
Ellis, though, made a career-high 16 free throws and finished with 32 points last month versus Utah.
The Jazz will also have to keep an eye on Rush, who has made 15 of 19 3-point attempts over the last seven games. He's the NBA's most accurate long range shooter at 59.3 percent.
"I think I'm getting better looks," said Rush, who hit four 3s and scored 14 points on Jan. 7. "... (My) confidence is high."
Jazz backup point guard Earl Watson, Rush's former Indiana Pacers teammate, will make the trip to Oakland, but he is doubtful after suffering a severely sprained left ankle on Wednesday.
That could put even more pressure on Devin Harris, who is dealing with a sore left hamstring.
Jazz shooting guard Raja Bell is questionable after missing two games with a strained right adductor.
If he can't go, Hayward will likely start in his spot, with Josh Howard rounding out the frontcourt with Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, who had team highs with 27 points and 12 boards on Wednesday after sitting one game with an inflamed right ankle.
Jefferson had 15 points and grabbed eight boards last month in Oakland.
Warriors forward David Lee scored 13 points and finished with 15 rebounds in that contest. Lee, though, has 17 total boards in the last three games as Golden State has been outrebounded by an average of 15.7 during this stretch.
Curry was out with a sprained right ankle the last time Utah was in town. He poured in a team-best 47 total points in the Jazz's previous two visits.
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