Utah has lost 10 of 13 games to sink into the Northwest Division cellar, including a 98-88 defeat at Portland on Sunday.
However, the Jazz have enjoyed much success against Los Angeles lately, winning 20 of the last 22 meetings. The Jazz have won 25 of 26 games between the teams at the Delta Center since it opened in 1991—the lone defeat a 96-89 decision on Jan. 22, 2003.
In Sunday’s loss, the Blazers led by as many as 11 points, but the Jazz narrowed the gap and took a short-lived lead late in the third quarter before Portland regained control.
“After we got the lead, their intensity picked up and then they got a big run early in the fourth,” said Utah guard Carlos Arroyo, who finished with 12 points, 12 assists and 4 steals. “They bounced back and we didn’t respond.”
Guard Raja Bell had a team-high 21 points for the Jazz, who suffered another injury setback. Center Jarron Collins was placed on the injured list before the game with a right knee strain. Utah activated center Curtis Borchardt, who had been sidelined with inflammation in his right foot.
Collins joins All-Star Andrei Kirilenko, who has been out since Nov. 30 with a sprained right knee. Kirilenko, a 6-foot-9 forward, averages a league-best 4.4 blocks per game and is Utah’s second leading scorer and rebounder with 14.8 points and 7.2 boards per game.
Forward Carlos Boozer, the team leader in points and rebounds, finished with just 12 points and seven boards on Sunday. Matt Harpring had 19 points and Mehmet Okur added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz, who have lost five of their last seven games at home.
The 6-foot-6 swingman, who went 17-of-19 from the line, is averaging 33.0 points on 46.5 percent shooting from the field in his last four games.
Forward Elton Brand, returning from a league-imposed one-game suspension for shoving Emeka Okafor on Dec. 6, added 24 points and 18 rebounds. Bobby Simmons had 22 for Los Angeles, which has played three overtime games in its last four contests. They dropped to 1-4 in extra period games for the season.
The Jazz lead the all-time series 76-51, and are 47-18 at home.