NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 6th (All times eastern)
Denver Nuggets (34-16) at Utah Jazz (30-18), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Utah Jazz can move up in the Northwest standings with a win over the division-rival Denver Nuggets tonight, when the two clubs square off at EnergySolutions Arena.
Utah sits just three games behind the Nuggets for the division lead and will try to close out a perfect four-game homestand Saturday. The Jazz have won a season-high seven in a row overall, including the first three tests of this residency.
In a 118-105 triumph over Portland on Wednesday, Mehmet Okur poured in a season-high 28 points and Andrei Kirilenko added 22, eight assists and six rebounds for the Jazz, who are unbeaten in their last nine home games and 21-6 in Salt Lake City this season.
"We passed the ball real well tonight," Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan said. "For the most part we passed it to guys that were open and we got some easy baskets. We shot an amazing 63 percent and had 32 assists. Deron (Williams) was terrific. He was terrific with the ball and he found people as did other people, Andrei (Kirilenko) had some great passes as well."
Wesley Matthews notched 16 points and five boards off the bench, Deron Williams chipped in 13 points and 13 assists and Paul Millsap tallied 12 points, nine boards and five assists for Utah. The Jazz have won 11 of their last 12 contests. Forward Carlos Boozer (calf) has missed three straight games and is listed as questionable for Saturday's game.
Denver, meanwhile, is coming off one of its most exciting wins of the season, a 126-113 win over the defending NBA champion LA Lakers in Hollywood on Friday. Chauncey Billups set a new career-high with 39 points after hitting a career-best nine three-pointers in 13 attempts in that one for the sharp- shooting Nuggets.
Billups, who found out earlier this week that he would participate in the All- Star Game in place of the injured Chris Paul, tied the franchise record for most three-pointers in a game, as the Nuggets won for the 11th time in 13 games despite the fact that Carmelo Anthony sat out for the seventh consecutive contest.
Denver went 15-of-22 from three-point range as a team in the game, falling just one triple shy of the team record for a single game. Five of those makes came from Billups in the third quarter, when he had 21 points to fall two points shy for most points by a Lakers opponent in a single quarter.
J.R. Smith added 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting for the Nuggets, who have won both games against the Lakers this season after falling to them in last year's Western Conference finals. Ty Lawson contributed 13 points, while Kenyon Martin had 11 points and 12 boards in the win.
"You have to always been confident," Billups said. "We're 2-0 in the season against them, but they're still the best in the conference. I got some good looks, and they gave me space. What makes me happy was that J.R. got hot. I'm happy with our guys, the way we played with our best player not out there."
The Nuggets will shoot for a series sweep of the Jazz tonight and have won four straight against them, including the first three meetings this season.
Denver has lost seven of nine and 23 of its last 27 trips to Utah.
02/06 10:39:47 ET