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Utah Jazz: Top 10 games of 66-game season

Published: Sunday, Dec. 25 2011 8:00 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA's irregular season has arrived.

The Utah Jazz will miss out on 16 games, but the compressed 66-game schedule should make for a wacky and wild ride through April 26.

Here are 10 Jazz games that could provide the most thrills:

10. New Year's Eve bash

Saturday, Dec. 31: Jazz at Spurs

Who'd you rather spend your night watching, Dick Clark or Tim Duncan? They're both entertaining old men. No? Fine then, which younger suave star would you rather see perform, Ryan Seacrest or Tony Parker? If that doesn't sell you, then at least this game — the first of four Spurs-Jazz duels — will give you something to do until the countdown begins and the chips run out.

9. Cheer on the champs

Jan. 19: Dallas at Utah

This might cause an awkward moment for some Jazz fans. Like most Americans, they rooted heavily for the Mavericks to beat the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. Do fans applaud them for winning or boo because they can't keep cheering for Mark Cuban's team out of principle, and especially that guy still has the German referred by some as "Dirty Dirk," right? No doubt the awkwardness and/or hospitality will have worn off by April 16 when Dallas visits again.

8. Turn up the Heat

March 2: Miami at Utah

It's always fun when the Heat's Big Three come to town. Who can resist watching Mickell Gladness, Terrel Harris and Norris Cole? It is a shame Sundiata Gaines won't be there to welcome LeBron James back to EnergySolutions Arena.

7. Thunder rolls to town

Feb. 10: OKC at Utah

The Jazz, who dodged a bullet by only having to face Oklahoma City three times, might put extra emphasis on this one. A Valentine's Day rematch awaits them four days later in OKC, and that's on the third night of an all-road back-to-back-to-back set.

(P.S. Utah won't pay a visit to Florida this season. But traveling media don't have to go to Milwaukee or Detroit this winter, so a certain Jazz beat writer will absolve the NBA schedule-maker for this otherwise egregious error.)

6. Windy City rivalry

March 10: Utah at Chicago

Sorry, Utah chapter fans. There's only one game against the Chicago Jazz this season, and it's on the road. That means ESA spectators won't get to boo Carlos Boozer or cheer, ooh and ahh over Kyle Korver or warmly applaud Ronnie Brewer until the 2012 NBA Finals.

Salt Lake City will also miss out on seeing Derrick Rose in person, making this a must-see-MVP-TV game.

5. The AK-47 Game

Teams and time TBD

Andrei Kirilenko was a fixture in Utah for 10 years. Granted, sometimes he was the broken fixture that required you to shower down the hall instead of in your own bathroom, but fans love(d) the incredibly versatile Russian-American. Well, except the ones who didn't love his injuries or inconsistencies that made him an international man of mystery. Oh yeah, and that contract. THAT contract. Remember how he made $17.8 million last season for ... oh ... yeah. Nyet! You won't want to miss AK-47's return if he even returns from Russia.

4. The Lake Show

Tuesday, Dec. 27: Jazz at Lakers

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