Kings-Jazz Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 29, 2012
The Utah Jazz didn't have the most successful road trip, but they showed they're not going to give up when they're down. Lately, the team hasn't had to play catch-up at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz look to extend their season-best home winning streak to eight games Friday night when the Sacramento Kings try to end their four-game losing streak. Back home briefly before playing seven of 11 on the road, the Jazz (27-24) would like to deliver a full 48-minute effort on Friday after facing double-digit deficits twice on their just-completed 1-2 trip. Utah opened that stretch with a 139-133 quadruple-overtime loss to Atlanta on Sunday, failing to win a seventh straight game despite erasing a 15-point halftime deficit. After outscoring New Jersey by 14 in the final 12 minutes of Monday's 105-84 victory, the Jazz rallied from 18 down in the third quarter on Wednesday before falling 94-82 to Boston. "That's definitely something we've shown on this road trip. We have fight. We're never going to give up," Gordon Hayward said after scoring a team-best 19 points. "... We've just got to be a little bit better in the first half and not get down so we don't have to fight back like that.'' The Jazz have trailed just once at halftime during their home winning streak. Utah's last 8-0 run at home was part of a 10-game win streak from Feb. 24-April 6, 2010. The Kings (17-33), a Western Conference-worst 4-22 on the road, will also try to snap a four-game skid in Salt Lake City after losing 96-93 in their lone visit this season Jan. 28. Former BYU star Jimmer Fredette airballed a 3-pointer in the final seconds of that game that would have given Sacramento the lead, but it's unlikely he'll have the ball in his hands should Friday's game go down to the wire. Fredette has 23 total points over the last eight contests and is averaging less than 10 minutes during that stretch, with fellow rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas taking a firm grip on the starting job. Thomas, who has averaged 14.8 points and 5.3 assists since being inserted into the starting five on Feb. 17, had a season-best 28 points with 10 assists in Wednesday's 117-112 loss to San Antonio. While the Kings shot a season-best 54.7 percent from the field, the Spurs made 53.8 percent of their shots, including 10 of 20 from 3-point range. Sacramento is allowing 110.8 points per game in its last five - 7.0 more than its league-worst average. Utah, meanwhile, is averaging 105.1 points during its home winning streak. Al Jefferson, averaging team highs of 19.7 points and 9.2 rebounds in six games during that stretch, is tied with Hayward for the most points (50) against the Kings in 2011-12. Utah improved to 2-1 in those matchups and snapped Sacramento's season high-tying three-game win streak March 22 with a 103-102 road win as Jefferson scored 26 points and Hayward added 18. Tyreke Evans shot 11 of 17 and finished with a team-best 25 points in that contest, but he needs to get more involved in the Kings' offense after taking a season-low five shots and scoring six points Wednesday. Evans' 22.9 career scoring average versus Utah is his best against any team. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 18 rebounds in each of the two games these teams played in Sacramento this season. Utah has won eight of nine at home in this series.
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