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Jazz shootaround: 'Big stretch' and tough tests await in season's final weeks

Published March 8, 2017 4:17 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Houston • The Utah Jazz's last two victories haven't exactly inspired tremendous confidence.

They've needed some late-game heroics and good fortune to escape with a win over the lottery-bound Kings then had to fight off a disappointing Pelicans team.

But a win, as they say, is a win.

And we're about to see if they have what it takes to win against some of the NBA's best.

"This is a big stretch for us," shooting guard Rodney Hood said.

The Jazz will square off with three straight Western Conference playoff teams starting with today's 8 p.m. MT tipoff against the Rockets.

These are difficult late-season tests for a team that would like to get its grades up against the top half of the league. Utah is just 9-15 against teams with .500 records or better entering the Rockets game.

The Jazz are "very aware" of their struggles, Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, though he cautioned some of it may be due to injury.

"It's something we know," the coach said. "We've looked at our record against top-16 teams. We've looked at our record against top-10 teams in the league."

The Jazz face a difficult fight to keep their hold on fourth place and home court in the round of the playoffs with 18 games left and perhaps the most difficult schedule ahead of any playoff team in the West.

"These types of stretches, as you get toward the end of the year, it's nearly impossible not to recognize who your opponent is," Snyder said. "The standings become more and more relevant. … We're aware of it."

The Jazz enter Wednesday's action 1.5 games up on the fifth-place Clippers, four games up on the sixth-place Grizzlies and five games up on the seventh-place Thunder.

"I'm not looking at the standings too much," forward Gordon Hayward said. "I'm looking at who we're playing that night. Try to win that night. Take it one game at a time. I think it's then natural and human to see the results and what's going on around the league. But I'm not looking at it thinking we could do this, we could do that. We should just look at it like we need to win each game."

Injury update

Forward Derrick Favors will miss tonight's game because of soreness in his right knee. Snyder said the forward had been dealing with some additional pain since at least Sunday's game in Sacramento. Point guard George Hill (toe) did not go through shootaround this morning, but there is a small amount of hope he can play tonight. Joe Johnson (groin) went through parts of shootaround and also is listed as questionable. Reserve point guard Shelvin Mack, who injured his ankle during warmups Sunday, will be held out of action again.

— Aaron Falk






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