Posted March 11, 2013 on AP on Fox
The Utah Jazz have fallen out of eighth place in the Western Conference following a disappointing road trip. Now they're hoping to regain a share of the final playoff spot in their return to Salt Lake City. The Jazz will try to snap a four-game losing streak and beat the sinking Detroit Pistons for the 10th straight time at home on Monday night. With Utah (32-31) mired in its longest losing streak of the season, the surging Los Angeles Lakers took a half-game lead in the conference standings with their win over Chicago on Sunday. The Jazz, meanwhile, are on the verge of falling to .500 after losing all four games on their road swing and seven of eight overall. They lost their first three on the trip by a total of five points before getting routed 113-84 at New York on Saturday. Reserve Alec Burks had a team-high 14 points against the Knicks as the Jazz shot 38.5 percent from the field - their worst shooting performance in more than two months. "Obviously there's not anybody in here that's not frustrated at this point, from players to coaching staff to the trainers. Everybody is frustrated,'' forward Marvin Williams said. "It's a crucial time of the season. We're in a serious spot right now and each game we've got to come out and play with a sense of urgency." The Jazz will try to avoid falling further behind as they return to Salt Lake City for the first time since a 30-point win over Charlotte on March 1 to improve to 22-8 at home. While Utah hasn't been nearly as dominant with a 3-3 record in its last six at EnergySolutions Arena, they haven't had any issues there against the Pistons. The Jazz have won 20 of 22 at home in this series, including nine straight by an average of 9.7 points. They also rallied back from a 15-point deficit in a 90-87 victory at Detroit on Jan. 12 for their 13th win in 14 meetings overall. Al Jefferson led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds in that victory, but had just seven points and four rebounds on Saturday in his second game back after missing the previous three with an ankle injury. Jefferson has averaged 24.3 points on 64.2 percent shooting in his last three against the Pistons. Paul Millsap, who had 17 points and seven rebounds in the first meeting, is expected to be a game-time decision because of right knee inflammation that sidelined him for Saturday's loss. After averaging 86.0 points in their last two games, the Jazz will try to get back on track against a Detroit team that has allowed an average of 105.0 while dropping eight of nine. The Pistons (23-42) lost their fifth straight on Sunday, falling 129-97 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the opener of a four-game road trip. "We should be able to play better, it doesn't matter what our position is in the standings or if we're playing a good or bad team,'' said Jose Calderon, who led Detroit with 18 points and hit 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Coach Lawrence Frank missed his third straight game due to a family matter. Assistant Brian Hill, who's running the team in the meantime, doesn't expect Frank back on this trip. Brandon Knight had a team-high 16 points against the Jazz in January and is averaging 18.3 in his last six games since missing three with a hyperextended knee. The Pistons, however, have scored just 88.4 per game - 6.0 below their season average - in their last nine contests. They've dropped 31 of 32 on the road versus West opponents, including 14 in a row.
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