Utah Jazz face Nuggets still trying to get first road breakthrough of the young NBA season
Tom Smart, Deseret News
DENVER — The Utah Jazz are undefeated at home, and winless on the road thus far in this young NBA season.
And veteran Jazz forward Paul Millsap thinks he might have the perfect cure for whatever ails 'em away from home.
"If we could pack up the fans and take 'em with us, man, it'd be great," Millsap said of the raucous EnergySolutions Arena crowd that has been such a huge factor in many a Jazz victory over the years. "But we can't."
And that's too bad because while the Jazz are 2-0 at home this year, with victories over a pair of perennially powerful opponents, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers, they are 0-3 on the road, with losses at New Orleans, San Antonio and Memphis.
They'll get another chance for their first road breakthrough of the 2012-13 campaign tonight when they visit Denver to duel the Nuggets in an 8:30 p.m. tipoff.
Utah coach Ty Corbin is well aware of his team's road struggles, something that plagued them throughout the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season and hasn't gotten better yet.
"We've got to understand a little bit more the sense of urgency from the beginning of the game as we did the last road game we had at Memphis — we were leading at halftime — and then make that a 48-minute game," he said.
"We can't afford to have lulls, especially on the road, because we don't have our crowd and all the other things that pick us up that we do at home. So we've got to make sure we don't have the lulls and when we have a run, we need to extend the run as long as we can and then count on our defense to carry us through."
Asked why Utah's home-court advantage has proven to be so formidable over the years, Corbin attributed it to several factors.
"The crowd, your home floor, your comfortable surroundings, your family's watching," he said. "I mean, it's just all the cookings of being home that help you fight through the tougher times a little easier than when you're on the road.
"And it all seems to be an uphill battle because you're out there on your own and when things are going well, the crowd's on you to break the run and the other team's on you. And if things aren't going well, they're cheering their team on and it seems like there's more than five guys you're going against."
Corbin said a big part of his team's problem could be its confidence, or lack of the same, when playing away from home. And that's a chicken-and-the-egg dilemma, because it's tough to feel confident on the road if you haven't won there yet.
And if you haven't been able to win out there yet, hey, how can you possibly feel confident?
"We just have to understand that we can do it, first of all, and we have to stay more focused on the things we need to do on the floor to be more effective," Corbin said.
"It's important to us. We talked about it right from the beginning of training camp through the end of the exhibition season. We have 12 of the first 18 games on the road and we need to get better on the road than we did last year. It's important to get the first one so we can move on from there."
The Jazz coach realizes that knocking off the run-and-gun Nuggets in Denver will be easier said than done.
"We've got to be focused for 48 minutes," Corbin said. "Denver's going to create a tempo that's up there. They always play fast there, and they play fast all the time but at home they really play fast.
"They want to get you into a game that's kind of wild and up-tempo, make us take a lot of jump shots, and if that's not working for us, we need to slow it down and make sure we understand that we can execute and score in the half court and make them stop us there.
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