Nets Skidding

The New Jersey Nets knew they'd be a different team without Vince Carter. They didn't expect things to change this much.

After dropping their fifth straight game since losing last season's leading scorer, the Nets look to avoid their first six-game skid in nearly a year when they visit the Utah Jazz in the opener of a four-game road trip Monday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Utah -10 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 190.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on Utah -10(View NBA Bet Percentages).

Carter sustained a Grade 1 sprain of his right ankle in the third quarter of New Jersey's Nov. 10 game against Boston. The Nets (4-6) went on to lose that contest - the first of five straight defeats for a New Jersey team that went 4-1 when Carter was healthy.

Carter is expected to travel with the team on this trip, but the timetable for his return is still uncertain. It appears unlikely he'll play against the Jazz (7-4).

That's bad news for the Nets, who desperately need him after falling 91-87 at home to Miami on Saturday. They set a season high in turnovers for the third straight game, committing 27 - their highest total since they had 30 against New Orleans on Dec. 10, 2004.

"The turnovers we are committing, we have to look at it," said Nets coach Lawrence Frank, whose club hasn't lost six in a row since Nov. 18-28 of last season. "We just have to make high-percentage plays. The intent is right, it just comes down to execution."

One minor benefit from Carter's absence has been the emergence of rookie Sean Williams. The 6-foot-10 forward and No. 17 overall selection in June's draft totaled only 23 minutes in New Jersey's first five games, but has seen increased playing time as Frank continues to look for answers.

Williams led the team with 22 points in his first start Saturday. He was 7-for-11 from the field and added eight rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.

"I feel like when I'm in the game and everything's flowing with my teammates and everything - and we're running - I feel like I can do good things," Williams told the Nets' official Web site.

Williams and the Nets will try to snap their skid against a Utah club that has lost consecutive games for the first time this season. The Jazz dropped the final two games of a three-game road trip, falling to Cleveland and Indiana, and suffered their largest margin of defeat this season in a 117-97 loss to the Pacers on Saturday.

Indiana, which had lost its previous six games, shot 57.9 percent from the field against an uncharacteristically lethargic Utah defense.

"It's mind-boggling to me that we didn't have more energy than we had," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "They had all the energy. They looked fresh. They looked like they were having fun playing. They came out and dominated the ballgame."

After averaging 111.9 points in the first eight games of the season, the Jazz scored just 94.3 per game on the three-game trip.

They'll look to rebound at EnergySolutions Arena, where they've won four straight by an average of 18.3 points since losing their home opener to Houston on Nov. 1.

Point guard Deron Williams is averaging 17.8 points and 11.2 assists at EnergySolutions Arena. He averaged 19.5 points with 5.0 assists in two games against the Nets last season, but New Jersey swept the series.

The Nets have won six of the last seven matchups with the Jazz.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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