Utah (24-22) at San Antonio (30-18)

Partly Cloudy Currently: San Antonio, TX
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Sat Jan 31, 2004
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The defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs look to make it 15 straight wins over the Utah Jazz as the Midwest Division rivals open a home-and-home series at the SBC Center.

The Spurs posted an 87-78 home victory over the Jazz on Nov. 10, extending their winning streak in the series to 14 games. It was also their 10th straight home win over Utah since a 101-87 loss on Feb. 28, 1999. The Spurs are 49-18 all-time against Utah in San Antonio.

The Spurs enter as the top defensive team in the NBA, allowing just 83.8 points per game.

They didn’t look it on Thursday, losing 96-91 to visiting Sacramento. San Antonio allowed the Kings to shoot 50 percent.

“We played, unfortunately, two distinct halves,” Spurs coach Greg Popovich said. “In the first half, mentally we were poor and lax on defense. In the second half we played excellent defense.”

The loss was the seventh in the last 11 games for the Spurs, and it ended the team’s streak of 33 straight months with a winning record. San Antonio is 7-9 in January.

Tim Duncan, who finished with 35 points and 18 rebounds Thursday, is averaging 32.5 points and 18.5 rebounds in the last two games. The reigning two-time MVP is shooting 57 (29-for-51) over that span.

Since ending a season-high five-game losing streak, the Jazz have won three in a row, including Friday’s 85-79 victory at Memphis. Andrei Kirilenko scored 21 points for Utah, and Carlos Arroyo and Raja Bell added 18 apiece.

Kirilenko, who took over as the team’s leading scorer after Matt Harpring went on the injured list with a knee injury Jan. 2, is averaging 22 points in his last two games. The Russian forward shot 6-for-10 on Friday, and is shooting 61 percent (14-for-23) over the last two games.

The Spurs visit the Jazz at the Delta Center on Monday.

Jerry Sloan will become the eighth coach to win 900 games with Utah’s next victory.

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