Puzzling Play

The Utah Jazz have suffered some puzzling road losses for a team that is in contention for the top spot in the Western Conference. A loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves in February certainly counts as one of those blunders.

Coming off yet another successful homestand, the Jazz look to avenge one of their most embarrassing losses of the season when they visit the lowly Timberwolves on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Utah –6.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 208 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 96% of bets for this game have been placed on Utah –6.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Utah (48-25) is two games behind New Orleans and San Antonio for first place in the West, thanks largely to a league-best 32-4 home record. The Jazz finished a 4-1 homestand with a 121-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

But for a team that has been so dominant at home, Utah's play away from EnergySolutions Arena remains perplexing. The Jazz are one of just three playoff-hopeful teams in the West that have less than 20 road wins, posting a 16-21 mark.

And Utah hasn't only had trouble against playoff contenders. The Jazz are a combined 0-3 on the road against Minnesota (18-53), New York (20-52) and league-worst Miami (13-59).

On Feb. 26, Utah committed 24 turnovers in a 111-100 loss in Minneapolis.

The Jazz were relatively healthy for that game. Now, the availability of Mehmet Okur, Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko is uncertain.

Okur and Brewer didn't play against the Clippers because of a stomach virus. Kirilenko, meanwhile, was scoreless in nine minutes before leaving with spasms in his right calf.

Okur averages 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds, while Brewer contributes 12.0 points a contest. Kirilenko is one of the Jazz's top all-around players, averaging 11.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.

But Carlos Boozer scored 34 points and Deron Williams had 32 to help Utah overcome a depleted lineup Friday. Williams, a third-year point guard, is averaging 21.8 points and 12.7 assists in his last four games.

"Deron sees so much out there on the floor and knows the game so well as a young player. It's very unusual," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.

Minnesota, meanwhile, has been without starting point guard Sebastian Telfair for 10 straight games because of a sprained left ankle. His status for Sunday's contest is uncertain.

The Timberwolves had won six of nine before losing 97-86 to Houston on Wednesday night and 99-84 to San Antonio two days later. Minnesota took no solace in falling to two of the league's best teams.

"Our job is to win. It's cut and dry," Timberwolves forward Kirk Snyder said. "It's a tough business. We don't play for moral victories and we're not a college team playing just to say we got better. We should be playing to win the ballgames."

Al Jefferson was held to 14 points on 7-of-20 shooting versus the Spurs. The fourth-year center, who leads Minnesota with 21.0 points per game, had 22 in the Feb. 26 matchup against Utah.

The Jazz and the Timberwolves have slit two games this season. These teams will complete their season series on Wednesday night at Utah.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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