NBA Basketball: Utah Jazz at New Orleans Hornets - Hornets Favored
53% of Bets Placed on Hornets +4.5 | Matchup | NBA Picks
Coming off a big victory against the closest pursuer in their division, the Utah Jazz will try to maintain their intensity when they visit the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday at Oklahoma City.
The Jazz (29-15) increased their Northwest Division lead to five games with a 116-111 win over the second-place Denver Nuggets on Friday.
Oddsmakers have made Indiana -4 point spread favorites
The victory didn't come easily for the Jazz, who lost starter Andrei Kirilenko with a sprained ankle in the second quarter. Kirilenko averages 9.2 points per game, and had seven with four assists when he was injured.
With one of the team's key players down, Carlos Boozer scored 25 points and matched a season-high with 19 rebounds for his 33rd double-double of the season.
Rookies Ronnie Brewer and Paul Millsap provided additional help. Brewer scored six of his career-high 12 points in the fourth quarter, and Millsap had two blocks in the final period and finished with six points and six rebounds as the Jazz erased an 11-point deficit.
"They were phenomenal," Boozer said of the rookies. "They came in and gave us a boost off the bench. They were scoring, they were blocking shots, they were rebounding. They gave us energy. They did a great job. I'm really proud of the young guys."
The Jazz will try not to slip up against a weaker opponent. Nine of Utah's losses have come against teams that currently have losing records, including a last-second 132-130 overtime defeat to Memphis - owner of the league's worst record - on Wednesday.
New Orleans (17-25) will play its fourth game in five days Saturday. The Hornets, who are playing the majority of their home games in Oklahoma City while New Orleans continues to recover from Hurricane Katrina, improved to 2-2 at New Orleans Arena with an 88-84 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
Desmond Mason scored 24 points on 12-for-18 shooting and hounded Sacramento's Ron Artest, holding him to nine points as the Hornets avoided a third consecutive loss.
"Every time Desmond seems to have the key assignment of guarding key guys on the other teams, he steps it up big time, and that goes for both ends'' of the court, Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "I am just a firm believer that if you go into the game thinking about stopping that guy, or keeping him under control, you have one of your better offensive nights."
New Orleans won despite an subpar night from David West, who had five points - well below his 17.0 average- on 1-for-9 shooting.
Bobby Jackson came off the bench to score 15 points and Tyson Chandler had 13 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double in his last five games.
The Hornets had lost their previous two games by a combined eight points.
"It's a good bounce back. It shows the character of the team," Mason said. "We lost two tough games and we felt like we should have won both of them. We had letdowns during the course of those games. We came back here, played aggressive, everybody contributed and we got a win."
Utah went 3-1 against New Orleans last season and has won three straight on the road in the series.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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