|Struggling Jazz and Trail Blazers Meet|
|Written by TheSpread|
|Monday, 16 April 2007 06:00|
Jazz Pursuing Home Court Advantage
Utah (49-31) has lost six of seven, falling two games behind Houston for fourth place in the Western Conference.
Oddsmakers have made Utah -4 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 188 total points (View NBA Sports Books). Our public betting information shows that 60% of bets for this game have been placed on Utah -4 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
The Jazz and Rockets both have two games remaining, and will meet in their regular-season finale Wednesday night. Houston will host Phoenix on Monday night.
"We've just got to hope they lose," Utah's Deron Williams said, "and we've got to beat them."
A 126-98 loss to the Suns on Saturday was Utah's season-high third straight defeat at home following a seven-game winning streak there.
Facing the Trail Blazers (32-48) could help the Jazz end their slump. Utah has won five straight and 10 of 11 at home against Portland, holding the Blazers to 85.3 points per game.
Portland, though, has won the last two games of its season series with Utah after losing the first meeting 96-86 on Dec. 30.
Poor play from their starting guards is partly to blame for the Jazz's problems.
Williams and Derek Fisher combined for nine points and eight turnovers while shooting 2-of-17 against Phoenix. The duo is shooting 32.0 percent (51-for-159) this month, and 23.9 percent (16-for-67) in Utah's last three losses.
Mehmet Okur led Utah with 20 points and 10 rebounds Saturday and Carlos Boozer added 18 points and 10 boards. Okur bounced back from a seven-point performance in a win over Dallas a day earlier.
The Blazers' 108-102 win over Seattle on Saturday night got them out of the Northwest Division cellar and put the SuperSonics there.
"I know there was a lot of talk about this game being important to the lottery," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "But you don't want to finish last. ... If you have an opportunity to win the game you've got to take it."
The Blazers may rest rookie guard Brandon Roy (knee) for its final two games but no final decision has been made, according to McMillan. Roy, averaging 16.8 points, sat out against the Sonics.
Besides Roy, the Blazers are without LaMarcus Aldridge (heart condition), Zach Randolph (hand), Joel Przybilla (knee) and Ime Udoka (knee). They've all been shut down for the season.
Jarrett Jack scored 25 points and Travis Outlaw matched his career high with 22 for the Blazers on Saturday.
Outlaw is averaging 17.3 points in his last three games. He had 22 to lift Portland to a 94-89 win over Utah on April 4 in the teams' last meeting.
The Blazers had lost four straight and eight of 10 before Saturday's game. Their season will end Wednesday night against Golden State.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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