The Utah Jazz look to put together a better 48-minute effort as they attempt to extend their season-high winning streak to seven games Monday night when the Portland Trail Blazers pay a visit. The Jazz have allowed 98.7 points per game during their winning streak, but gave up 39 in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 115-99 victory over Cleveland to set off some complacency alarms.
“A win is a win. … But it’s just all about habits right now,” Utah guard Kyle Korver told the Salt Lake Tribune of the fourth-quarter meltdown. “We have a nice little stretch going - it’s easy to kinda get comfortable, but we got a lot of big games coming, so we can’t do that.” The Jazz go for their third victory in three tries against Portland this season after earning a pair of victories during a five-day period in late December by a combined 51 points while shooting 55.4 percent from the field overall. The Trail Blazers have won six of their last eight games, including two straight after Friday’s 128-112 victory over New Orleans at home as six players scored in double figures, led by Damian Lillard’s 24 points. Lillard tops Portland in scoring (26.1) and assists (6.1), but is averaging 19.5 points and three helpers while shooting 43.2 percent from the floor in two games against Utah this season.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (28-19): Forward Maurice Harkless returned after a five-game absence due to a knee injury to score 12 points in Friday’s win over New Orleans. “I was just happy to be out there,” Harkless told the Oregonian. “It’s been frustrating. It was kind of one of those things, I just had to let it heal. … I’m hopeful that this will be the last time I have to deal with this.” Guard CJ McCollum is second on the team in scoring (20.6) after draining 15-of-25 from the field the last two games while center Jusuf Nurkic (14.9 points, 10.4 rebounds) has two double-doubles and a triple-double in the last five contests.
ABOUT THE JAZZ (26-21): Guard Donovan Mitchell tops the team in scoring (21.7) after averaging 29 over the last eight games, including 24 on 9-of-15 shooting from the floor against Cleveland. Center Rudy Gobert contributes 15 points along with 13.1 rebounds (fifth in the league entering Sunday) per contest and has strung together seven straight double-doubles, tying him with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid for the NBA lead at 38 - seven more than he had in 56 games last season. Korver has connected on 14-of-27 attempts from 3-point range over the last four games while veteran big man Derrick Favors has two straight double-doubles.
1. Portland SF Jake Layman is averaging 16 points over the last four games - almost 10 above his season mark (6.6).
2. Utah SF Royce O’Neale notched his first double-double of the season Friday with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
3. Trail Blazers PF Al-Farouq Aminu is averaging 12.8 points and 10 boards over the last four contests.