SAN ANTONIO — Now that the Utah Jazz have figured out how to win a couple of games at home, they’ll see if they can keep up their fine play on the road, where they’ve won more games than all but one team in the NBA.
As poorly as the Jazz have played overall at home – the blowout victories over San Antonio and Houston improved their mark to 4-6 — they’ve been terrific on the road. Their 9-7 road record makes them one of only four teams with a winning record in away games. Only Toronto, which has the best overall record in the NBA at 21-6, has more road victories with 10.
The Jazz will play their second of just four road back-to-back games when they take on San Antonio at the AT&T Center Sunday evening (5 p.m. MST) and then play at Oklahoma City Monday night in a 6 p.m. contest at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
It will mark the second time in five days that the Jazz and Spurs will meet, while Utah will be playing the Thunder for the first time since last year’s playoff series, which the Jazz won in six games.
Since the 139-105 loss in Utah five days earlier, the Spurs have played the Los Angeles Lakers twice, losing 121-113 in L.A. Wednesday and winning in San Antonio 133-120 Friday. In that game, DeMar DeRozan led the team in three categories with 36 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
Although the Jazz had little trouble with the Spurs on Tuesday night when they scored a season high in points while handing out 38 assists, they aren’t expecting another cakewalk, even if the Spurs have the third worst record in the Western Conference right now at 12-14, a game behind Utah's 13-13 mark.
Donovan Mitchell gave the example of earlier games against Sacramento. They they beat the Kings by 39 points in a preseason game and less than a week later, they had to scrap to beat Sacramento by six points in their season-opener. Then a couple of weeks after that, the Kings knocked off the Jazz in Salt Lake.
“They’ll have a chip on their shoulder for sure,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to be ready and focused. We’ve got to put these past three games behind us and go out and continue to play the way we have been.”
“They’re definitely going to come out with a lot more energy and play especially hard,” added Jazz forward Derrick Favors. “We’ve just got to make sure we’re physically ready and mentally ready.”
“We expect a good game,” said Jae Crowder. “Those guys have pride, they’re a prideful organization, and we expect a hard-fought game in San Antonio.”
Besides DeRozan, the Spurs are expected to start LaMarcus Aldridge (18.1 ppg) and Dante Cunningham (4.3 ppg) inside and Rudy Gay (13.5 ppg) and Bryn Forbes (11.7 ppg) on the wings.
Former Ute Jakob Poeltl is coming on strong as a reserve for the Spurs. He scored a career-high 20 points with seven rebounds in the recent game in Salt Lake. In the Spurs’ victory over the Lakers Saturday night, he had another solid outing with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting with eight rebounds and three blocked shots.Comment on this story
JAZZ NOTES: This will be Utah’s only visit to San Antonio this season. The only other game versus the Spurs will be Feb. 9 at Vivint Arena. … Last year, the Jazz won the season series with San Antonio, winning both games at home, while splitting the two on the road. … While the Jazz will be playing the Spurs for the second time in a week, they still haven’t played 14 teams in the league. … The Jazz have played three teams, Sacramento, Houston and Memphis, three times and Houston, Boston and Indiana twice. … On this date a year ago, the Jazz were 1-9 on the road. … Rudy Gobert continues to lead the NBA in field goal shooting at 69.3 percent. He’s seventh in rebounding at 12.4, but his average was hurt by Thursday’s early ejection when he had just one rebound in his three minutes of action.