Blazing Hot Streak

The Portland Trail Blazers are in the midst of the longest winning streak of the NBA season. The Utah Jazz feel like they've had a front-row seat.

Portland goes for its 14th straight win - and third against the Jazz during the streak - when the teams meet Monday night at Utah.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Utah -7 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 200 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 66% of bets for this game have been placed on Portland +7 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

The Blazers' run is the franchise's best since a 16-game winning streak in 1990-91, and is the longest in the league since Dallas won 17 straight from Jan. 27-March 11.

"I don't think I've been with a team that's done this,'' coach Nate McMillan said. "This is difficult to do in this league, to go on this type of streak.''

As Portland (18-12) has gone from Western Conference also-ran to the league's hottest team, the Jazz have been following the opposite path.

Utah started the season 13-5 while averaging 107.1 points per game. However, since Dec. 4 - the day after the Blazers' streak began - the Jazz have gone 3-11, including a pair of losses to Portland Dec. 11 and 14.

The Blazers' latest win - 97-72 over Philadelphia on Sunday - had the biggest margin of victory of the winning streak, but the outcome was in doubt for much of the game. Portland trailed 63-62 heading into the fourth quarter before holding the 76ers to nine points in the final 12 minutes.

Reserve forward Travis Outlaw scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth, sparking a 21-0 Blazers run that put the game away. Outlaw is averaging 14.9 points off the bench during the streak.

"I always tell Travis at the beginning of the fourth quarter that it's a new game: 'Come out and do what you do,''' said Portland guard Brandon Roy, who had a team-high 22 points. "He's tough to guard because if you put somebody small on him he can shoot right over the top and if you put a big man on him he can drive around him."

Roy, last season's rookie of the year, continues to emerge as one of the league's top young stars. He's averaging 22.8 points, 6.6 assists and 5.6 rebounds over his last 13 games.

Roy is averaging 23.6 points in five career games against the Jazz.

If the Blazers are to extend the streak, they'll have to do it without McMillan, who will miss Monday's game while attending a funeral for his mother-in-law. Assistant coach Dean Demopoulos will take over in McMillan's absence.

Since an impressive, 99-90 win over Dallas on Wednesday, Utah (16-16) has suffered consecutive losses. The Jazz fell 123-109 on Friday night at Los Angeles, then played league-leading Boston tough at home Saturday before losing 104-98.

"Hopefully they got taught something ... so they'll be better next time,'' Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "I'm real proud of the fact that we played hard after a tough game (against Los Angeles), where we got walloped.''

Defense has been a major reason for Utah's slide in recent weeks. The Jazz were giving up 98.2 points per game when they were 13-5, but have seen that average climb to 103.5 in the 14 games since.

Utah leading scorer Carlos Boozer is averaging 19.9 points and 11.7 rebounds against Portland since joining the Jazz in 2004-05. He had a 29-point, 13-rebound effort Dec. 11 in a 97-89 home loss to the Blazers.

Utah may be without forward Andrei Kirilenko, who sat out against the Celtics with a biceps injury and is day-to-day.

Kyle Korver, whom the Jazz acquired from Philadelphia on Saturday, is expected to make his Utah debut in this contest. The five-year veteran small forward was averaging 10.0 points in 25 games with the Sixers - all off the bench.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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