Suns-Jazz Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 27, 2013
With their sights set squarely on claiming the Western Conference's final playoff spot, the Utah Jazz have little margin for error as the season winds down. They've pushed their luck in recent weeks with poor play, but hope to take advantage of a home-heavy schedule to end year after putting the brakes on a losing streak. The Phoenix Suns are still stuck in yet another skid - one that may not end anytime soon without improvements on the defensive end. Utah looks to build on an encouraging victory and send the Suns to a fourth straight loss on Wednesday night. A 5-12 record since the All-Star break has caused Utah (35-36) to fall one-game back of the Los Angeles Lakers in the race for eighth place. But while the Lakers enter their game Wednesday at Minnesota mired in a three-game losing streak, Utah put an end to its own four-game slide with a 107-91 home win over Philadelphia on Monday. Despite squandering a lead of five games over Los Angeles at the break, the Jazz's confidence hasn't necessarily been shaken - especially considering seven of their final 11 games are in Salt Lake City. Utah owns a 25-9 home record. "We can definitely do it," Hayward said of Utah making the playoffs for the second straight year and sixth time in seven seasons. "We've beaten some of the best teams in the league. I know we can do it. It's just a matter of us going out there, playing as a team, helping each other defensively and making a lot of plays." Hayward has been making plays for the Jazz over the last week. After coming off the bench for the last four months, Hayward is averaging 15.7 points in starting the last six. He's burying 56.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (13 of 23), compared to a 41.6 percent season average "I think it's big for us," Randy Foye said of Hayward in a starting role. "I've been out there the whole year, not by myself, but Mo (Williams) has (been hurt) and (Hayward) has been playing with the second unit. With those guys out there, everyone's a threat and it's pick your poison for opponents." The Suns (23-48) have lost three straight - their eighth skid of at least three games this season - as well as nine of 11. They're ranked in the bottom third for the season in scoring defense at 100.6 points per game, but have been particularly bad over the last 10, yielding an average of 106.2 points on 48.1 percent shooting. Phoenix, which is 7-26 on the road, did chip away at a 16-point deficit in the third quarter of Sunday's home game against Brooklyn, but wound up taking a 102-100 loss. "We are of course disappointed because we lost," interim coach Lindsey Hunter said. "But if we can have that type of effort every night we will take it. ... That is what we have to do every single night, every single practice, we have to fight." The Jazz won two of the three previous meetings this year, though Jared Dudley provided a hot hand for Phoenix, averaging 18.0 points on 68.8 percent shooting. Al Jefferson is averaging 20.7 points and 11.0 rebounds for the Jazz in the three meetings.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cubs trade for Chapman a risk, but potential payoff too hard to ignore

White Sox fan wears a fantastic taped-up Chris Sale jersey

Wisconsin kicker will wear 27 to honor Nebraska's Sam Foltz

Dennis Schroder wears disguise to play in German streetball tournament

Browns indicate they will give Josh Gordon another chance

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Prince Fielder to undergo season-ending neck surgery

Eagles want Carson Wentz to be 'starter ready' Week 1

Report: 49ers concerned Anthony Davis will quit again

Did Manning hurt NFLPA's case in HGH investigations?

Report: Steinbrenner won't allow fire sale, wants to make playoffs

Report: Dion Waiters agrees to one-year deal with Heat

Dion Waiters' deal signals the end of the 2016 money grab

Tom Jackson could leave ESPN after almost three decades

Cavs sign coach Tyronn Lue to a five-year extension

More than 10,000 people registered for Jaguars Pokemon Go night

NFL issues new concussion protocol

Angels listening to offers on Hector Santiago

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

Kevin Durant’s OKC restaurant will be closed, rebranded

Lamar Odom said to be held back by one 'toxic friend'

Mario Balotelli crashes Liverpool fans' wedding

Michael Vick: I used to feel I was 'dominating too much'

WATCH: Astros, Rangers minor leaguers get into brawl

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker