|NBA: Portland Blazers at Utah Jazz Preview, Matchup, Picks & Odds|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Tuesday, 11 December 2007 14:00|
Solid O, Sorry D
The Utah Jazz rode one of the NBA's highest-scoring offenses to a strong start, but their lackluster defense has led to their longest losing streak of the season.
The Portland Trail Blazers, meanwhile, have used a surging offense to bounce back from an ugly stretch with three straight victories.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Utah -13 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 204 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shots that 51% of bets for this game have been placed on Utah –13 View NBA Bet Percentages).
The Blazers look to match their season-high win streak when they visit the slumping Jazz on Tuesday in a Northwest Division matchup.
Utah (13-8) has been one of the league's best offensive clubs, averaging 107.1 points per game and shooting 50.1 percent from the field. That explosive and efficient offense helped the team open the season 13-5.
The Jazz, though, are returning home from an 0-3 road trip during which they gave up 115.3 points per game.
Their defensive struggles were particularly visible on Saturday, when they gave up a season-high point total in a 125-117 loss at Dallas. The Mavericks' Josh Howard scored a career-high 47, tying Houston's Tracy McGrady for the second-most points scored in an NBA game this season.
McGrady's performance came on Nov. 1 - also against Utah.
"We didn't have much of an answer for Howard," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We couldn't stop him, but there were a lot of people we had a tough time stopping."
Utah shot 60.5 percent from the field in the defeat - the highest mark by any team in a loss since the New York Knicks shot 61.5 percent in a 116-115 defeat against Sacramento on Feb. 4, 2005.
The Jazz are holding opponents to 93.4 points in their 13 wins, but have given up 112.5 in their eight losses.
"All our losses, we've struggled defensively," said point guard Deron Williams, who also set a career high in Saturday's game, going 13-for-20 from the field and 12-for-13 from the free-throw line for 41 points.
"We dominated points in the paint, we executed well, we just didn't get enough stops. We need to work on helping each other out on our rotations."
They'll try to step up their defense against Portland (8-12), which has topped 100 points in each of three straight wins after losing nine of its previous 10. The Blazers had passed the century mark only three times in their first 17 games.
During the win streak, second-year guard Brandon Roy is averaging 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists while shooting 59.2 percent from the field. He had 26 points and made the go-ahead layup in Portland's 117-113 overtime win against Milwaukee on Sunday.
"Coach (Nate McMillan) said, 'Whatever you do, try to get to the basket and try to draw the foul,'" said Roy, last season's Rookie of the Year. "They gave me a clear path for the layup and I was able to get it."
Portland - which is one win shy of its season-high win streak, set Nov. 7-13 - improved to 7-3 at home.
"As a team, we stayed patient, stayed calm and believed in ourselves," point guard Steve Blake said. "We came out there and performed what we had to do down the stretch."
The Blazers hope to carry their strong play to the road, where they're just 1-9. Turning their road struggles around in Salt Lake City could be a challenge, however.
The Jazz are 8-1 at home, where they've outscored their opponents by an average of 16.7 points. They've won eight straight at EnergySolutions Arena since dropping their opener against Houston on Nov. 1.
These teams split their season series in 2006-07, but the Blazers lost both of their road games. They've dropped 11 of 12 in Utah since the 2001-02 season, including six straight since an 87-73 victory on Feb. 6, 2004.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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