No place like home for Utah Jazz, who host Denver Monday night
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz are making a quick pit stop at home today in between Saturday's visit to Sacramento and a daunting three-game trip in New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Houston.
On their to-do-while-home list: Pack fresh socks, check the mail and get back on a winning track at EnergySolutions Arena before returning to the dreaded road.
Getting their customary home win could be a big challenge, though.
Utah hosts the Denver Nuggets, who pounded the Jazz 104-84 in their first meeting this year. Of course, that was in an away arena, where the Jazz have experienced more turbulence than on their flights while struggling to a 2-7 record.
The Jazz at home, on the other hand, have been a different beast.
They've won their first five games at ESA.
They've outscored opponents by 10.8 points on Larry H. Miller Court compared to being outscored by 5.3 a night elsewhere.
They've outrebounded themselves (49.6-42.4), outassisted themselves (24.8-19.9), outscored themselves (100.0-92.4) and just about done everything better at home compared to the road.
"It's tough losing on the road. We have to figure it out soon since the urgency has to hit us early in the season," Jazz point guard Earl Watson said. "But we want to take advantage of the time we have so we can get better as a team. We have an obstacle in front of us on the road. We're going back home now to focus on one game and get back on the road."
Problem is, the Jazz's road inconsistencies put extra pressure on this 7-7 squad to perform even better at home. Eventually, though, Utah will have to figure out how to consistently win away from the Beehive State, or goals of exceeding last year's first-round playoff appearance will seem like a pipe dream.
"We've got to continue to take care of our home business until we figure the road out," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
An even bigger issue is Utah's habit of slow starts — something that's plagued Corbin's clubs for the past two seasons.
"We've got to understand what it's going to take to get us to 48 minutes of basketball," the coach added, "and that's getting off to a better start."
"We've got to get it together. It will turn around for us," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "We've just got to find a way to play for the full 48 minutes."
The Jazz didn't practice Sunday, giving starting point guard Mo Williams an extra day of healing for his moderately sprained right forefoot. He injured it Friday, didn't play Saturday and is up in the air for tonight's game.
Though the Jazz fell behind 8-0 and then allowed the Kings to quickly erase their five-point halftime lead, Corbin said he feels comfortable with and confident in the starting lineup. Jamaal Tinsley filled in for Williams — and will again if needed tonight — while Randy Foye, Marvin Williams, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson also started.
"They're a capable group," Corbin said. "We can't afford with any group that we have to start out down every night."
Aside from being home, the Jazz catch another break. Denver played at home Sunday night and had to fly to Utah after beating the New Orleans Hornets. However, the Nuggets have won four of their past six road games.
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