Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The good news is that the Utah Jazz rallied for another of their patented comeback victories.
And the bad news?
They're coming home.
In one of the strangest developments of this NBA season, the Jazz have turned into a seemingly indestructible, resilient squad on the road where they've won more games than anyone in the league at 6-2.
Yet they're proving to be vulnerable at home where they've gone 3-3, giving them no more advantage at EnergySolutions Arena than the Target Center has been this season for Minnesota.
"We need to get it back on pace," Jazz power forward Paul Millsap said of the team's home record after it lost in front of its own fans Friday night. "We will get it back on pace."
The Jazz certainly need to regain their traditional and reputed dominance at ESA.
They're Bruce Banner at EnergySolutions Arena, having lost two of their last three there. Then they become the Incredible Hulk almost everywhere else, having racked up a five-game winning streak on the road for only the eighth time in franchise history.
They've become the Jekyll and Hyde of the NBA.
They're Supermen on the road but dorky and awkward newspaper reporters at home. OK, that's a stretch, but there is something bizarre going on.
And not to give up team traveling secrets, but it's not because they're staying at Holiday Inn Express, either.
"I think sometimes the home team tightens up a little, to be honest with you," Jazz assistant coach Phil Johnson said after his team's 103-94 win Saturday at Portland. "We did (Friday) night against San Antonio and they did (Saturday) against us. I think a team coming up on you, it's tough to withstand."
Hosting Sacramento tonight doesn't guarantee Utah will snap out of its home funk. The Jazz fell to the Kings at ESA once last year (104-99), got challenged the other time (101-94) and lost the season series (2-1).
Utah has one thing going for it. Though it's lost all three home games to opponents with winning records, its three Utah-based wins have come against losing teams. Toronto, New Jersey and the Los Angeles Clippers are a combined 10-31 — and Sacramento fell to 4-8, losing 75-71 to New Orleans at home Sunday.
TECHNICAL HELP: There was some confusion Saturday after official Bill Kennedy stopped action and assessed Utah with a technical foul. Initially, it appeared the "T" was given to a stunned Andrei Kirilenko, who was sitting at the end of the bench.
But Kennedy made strong pointing gestures at assistant trainer Brian Zettler, who got the ref's attention somehow while sitting on the baseline by the Jazz bench.
A smiling Zettler offered a "no comment" about the situation in the locker room.
But Deron Williams, who laughed with Al Jefferson as Kennedy explained the reason behind the bench technical, said the Jazz were rallying to B.Z.'s defense. The $2,000 expense portion, at least.
"We're all pitching in and paying his fine, because it was at the right time," Williams said. "It helped."
Portland had a three-point lead when it happened in the third quarter and upped that to nine before Miles hit his five fourth-quarter 3-pointers to spark Utah's 103-94 win.
OFFENSIVE AGAIN: Sitting at his locker, Williams shook his head in disgust as he read aloud that Portland grabbed a whopping 24 offensive rebounds.
Utah dodged a bullet, though. The Blazers only converted those second-chance opportunities into 17 points. San Antonio turned its 16 offensive boards into 14 points in beating the Jazz 94-82 Friday.
Portland snatched three of its missed 3-point attempts in a wild sequence in the final minute while trying (but failing multiple times) to trim Utah's five-point lead.
"We've had so many problems with that," Johnson said. "It's not all the big guys. Our guys were leaking out and we have way too many long rebounds."
Portland won the battle of the boards 48-38, marking the fifth consecutive game the Jazz have been outrebounded.
Utah allows 14.1 offensive rebounds per game, which ranks second-worst in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers are the league's worst defensive rebounding team, so at least the Jazz are in good company.
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