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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, February 16th (All times eastern)

Utah Jazz (32-19) at Houston Rockets (27-24), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Deron Williams and the Utah Jazz kick off a four-game road trip tonight in south Texas against a Houston Rockets team on the outside looking in at the Western Conference playoff picture.

The Jazz won nine of 10 games heading into the All-Star break with their lone loss coming last Wednesday when the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers invaded Salt Lake City and waxed Utah, 96-81.

Lamar Odom made 7-of-9 shots from the field on his way to 25 points while pulling down 11 rebounds in that one. Pau Gasol added 22 points and 19 rebounds for the Lakers, who were playing without All-Star guard Kobe Bryant for a third straight game due to a balky left ankle.

Andrei Kirilenko finished with 17 points and five rebounds for the Jazz, who trail Denver by two games in the Northwest Division and have won 13 of their last 15 overall.

Wesley Matthews made 6-of-7 shots from the floor on his way to 13 points off the bench while Carlos Boozer and Williams had 11 points apiece, with Boozer pulling down 10 rebounds and Williams dishing out 10 assists in defeat.

Williams was also one of the Western Conference's best players in Sunday�s All-Star game, netting 14 points and six assists in a 141-139 loss to the East.

The Rockets, meanwhile, entered the break off one of their worst losses of the season, a 99-66 drubbing at the hands of the Miami Heat in South Beach.

All-Star MVP Dwyane Wade compiled 17 points, seven assists and five steals over the first three quarters in that one as Miami snapped a season-high five- game skid.

Chase Budinger had 10 points and 12 rebounds for Houston, which tied its franchise record for fewest points in a game. Luis Scola chipped in 12 points, Carl Landry netted 11, while Aaron Brooks scored 10.

The Rockets, who shot a woeful 30.2 percent (26-of-86), were missing Trevor Ariza (left hip pointer) and Kyle Lowry (sprained left ankle) from the lineup.

"Too many turnovers, we didn't make shots, and Wade got going," Brooks said. "We haven't been playing good basketball as of late. During the (All-Star) break we'll have time to think about it and be ready for the next round of games."

Ariza may return tonight but Lowry will remain on the sidelines for Houston, which is now two games behind Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

"We have to get our mindset right for the last 31 games," Rockets coach Rick Adelman told the team's Web site.

02/16 10:37:53 ET

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