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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Utah Jazz middle Ekpe Udoh (33) Utah Jazz ahead Jonas Jerebko (eight) Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) and Utah Jazz ahead Thabo Sefolosha (22) watch from the bench as the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans play an NBA basketball sport at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. Three, 2018. The Pelicans received 108-98.
DENVER — After a brutal December, the month of January didn’t precisely get off to a super start for the Utah Jazz with Wednesday’s 108-98 loss to New Orleans.
But it’s intended to get so much more straightforward for the Jazz this month, proper?
Uh, now not actually.
After enjoying 9 road video games in an 18-day length in December, the Jazz have launched into another difficult road trip, this one lasting 9 days with 4 video games, together with 3 towards NBA playoff groups.
It begins with the Denver Nuggets Friday, 7 p.m. at the Pepsi Center. Then it’s off to a couple of Eastern Conference groups, Miami Sunday and Washington Wednesday, sooner than completing up with a sport at Charlotte the next Friday.
“It’s not like the schedule gets a lot easier,” trainer Quin Snyder stated not too long ago after the cruel December slate. “There’s a few games in January that are aren’t easy games either. They’re all hard in the NBA.”
Road video games were in particular tricky this yr for the Jazz, whose Three-15 road file is second-worst within the NBA, behind simplest Atlanta at Three-16. According to Snyder, it comes down most commonly to protection.
“We need to find another level on defense,” he stated. “By and large, we’ve not been good defensively on the road. It’s a challenge for our guys, and we need to play with the same urgency and focus on the road. We need to be better on the road, no question about it.”
The Jazz will indubitably have a problem Friday night time towards a Denver group that toyed with the Jazz simply 10 days in the past at the Pepsi Center in a 107-83 victory the day after Christmas. In that sport, the Jazz had their second-lowest capturing share of the season (32.1), whilst the Nuggets shot 48.1 p.c. Utah fell behind 50-34 at halftime and had been by no means within the sport.
Since then, the Nuggets (20-17) misplaced shut video games to Minnesota and Philadelphia sooner than bouncing again with a 134-111 win over Phoenix Wednesday night time. In that sport, Denver shot a blistering 62.2 p.c from the sphere on 51 of 82, together with 12 of 27 from Three-point vary. Seven gamers scored in double figures led by way of Gary Harris with 36 issues. The win prolonged their lead over Utah within the Western Conference to four.five video games.
This will mark the fourth and ultimate assembly between the 2 groups. Utah received the primary two video games, 106-96 on opening night time and 106-77 in a overdue November sport when Derrick Favors led the Jazz with 24 issues.
Since then, the Nuggets have switched up their lineup, shifting Wes Chandler and Mason Plumlee into the beginning lineup at the frontline and the usage of former Jazzman Trey Lyles extra widely.
The Nuggets have a balanced groups led by way of Harris at 16.6 ppg, adopted by way of ahead Nikola Jokic at 16.2 ppg. Jamal Murray is subsequent at 15.7 ppg, adopted by way of reserve Will Barton at 14.eight and Chandler at 10.1 ppg. Former Jazzman Paul Millsap used to be averaging 15.Three ppg sooner than going out with an damage to his wrist in overdue November.
Snyder doesn’t see the start of a brand new yr as vital to the Jazz turning round their road woes, however hopes it starts quickly.
“There’s no timeline on that,” he stated. “We’ve got to keep getting better. Hopefully it’s right now.”
JAZZ NOTES: The Jazz will play Miami at 1:30 p.m. MT on Sunday. The Heat defeated the Jazz 84-74 in early November. Donovan Mitchell, who scored 24 Wednesday night time towards New Orleans, leads the Jazz at 18.Three ppg, adopted by way of Rodney Hood at 17.zero ppg. The subsequent house sport for Utah will likely be Jan. 15 towards Indiana.