HOUSTON — Utah returns home tonight for a game in a building in which it has a 12-5 record. That's the good news.
The bad: The Jazz play the red-hot San Antonio Spurs, who have won 10 straight.
The worst: Lightning-quick Tony Parker is still a Spur.
Kyle Lowry became the latest point guard to look like an All-Star against Utah in his 32-point outing Sunday — a 101-85 Houston win — so you can expect some pick-and-roll to be run against the Jazz.
"I'm sure we're not the only team that struggles against it," Jazz guard Raja Bell said. "That's why (the Rockets) run it."
Houston isn't the only team that runs the bread-and-butter play of John Stockton and Karl Malone to great success against the Jazz, either.
It's been an ongoing problem and a big source of frustration and losses for the team all season.
"It's something that we've got to figure out," Bell said. "It's something we've got to continue to get better at because there are a bunch of quick point guards. . . . We've got to find an answer for our team."
The pick-and-roll problem (or bonus, depending on your perspective), Bell explained, is that quick guards have all sorts of options when they penetrate into the gut of the defense and force defenders to collapse on them.
"The good ones get in there and create havoc, whether they're scoring or they're opening up for everybody else," Bell said. "That's why 95 percent of the NBA runs it almost religiously down the stretch in the NBA. It's hard to defend."
Backup point guard Earl Watson was particularly peeved about how Lowry picked apart the Jazz screen defense and drilled seven 3-pointers. The problem was, the Rocket guard was just the latest opposing playmaker to play like, um, Jeremy Lin.
"From this point on, whatever it takes to stop it is what I've got to do. If I foul out, I foul out. Point guards can't keep having 20-plus points," Watson said. "We keep running the same pick-and-roll coverage, so I've just got to be more physical."
Watson didn't elaborate — and coach Tyrone Corbin had already spoken to the media — but the 11-year veteran believes the Jazz need to adjust their coverage to their opponents.
"If it doesn't change," Watson added, "I have to change. It's simple."
That change, he'd explained, was picking up the physicality.
INJURY UPDATE: The Jazz have had good fortune when it comes to injuries. The team has only missed 13 man games due to injuries, with Josh Howard sitting out the most (four) due to a left quad strain.
Utah ended Sunday's game, however, with two starters experiencing pain.
Bell left with three minutes remaining after straining his left adductor (groin). He missed three games earlier with a strained right adductor.
"We'll see how that feels (tonight)," said Bell, officially a game-time decision.
Jefferson hobbled out with two minutes left because of "sharp" stomach pain..
"It's OK," he said.
Earlier Sunday, Corbin credited his training staff of trainers Gary Briggs and Brian Zettler along with strength and conditioning coach Mark McKown for doing a "tremendous job" in this compressed season.
Stretching, weightlifting and old-fashioned good luck have played factors in keeping Utah relatively health.
"We've been blessed with that so far," Corbin said. "We've got to make sure we continue the rest of the year."
STILL SIDELINED: NBA teams can only dress 13 players, so recently acquired DeMarre Carroll has been the odd-man out on this 14-deep squad. The small forward has yet to don a Jazz uniform in a game, but he continues to learn the system off the court.
The Jazz were even able to go through a couple of practices with Carroll last week.
Corbin's early evaluation: "He can flat run for a 3-man. He can get out on the floor."
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