The Utah Jazz have the formidable task of trying to halt their worst losing streak in over two decades when they host the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs—a team they haven’t beaten in nearly five years.
Utah lost its ninth straight game to fall 13 games below .500 in an 89-86 defeat at Milwaukee on Saturday. The Jazz have not lost this much nor dropped this low under the breakeven mark since the 1982-83 season when they posted their last losing record, 30-52.
Top scorer and rebounder Carlos Boozer had 28 points and eight rebounds for Utah, which completed its fifth game in seven days on Saturday and has not won since a 103-101 victory over Philadelphia on Dec. 20.
“I think we could have executed a little bit better and maybe gotten just a little bit closer on some of our shots,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “But we’re so anxious and so impatient all the time.”
“We had everything in our hands,” said Giricek. “We did the job. It’s like milking a cow. You get all the milk and then when you’re done, you spill it.”
The Jazz, who have lost three in a row at home, are being outscored by an average of 9.5 points during the slump.
They are 3-17 since losing all-star forward Andrei Kirilenko to a sprained right knee. The 6-foot-9 Russian was averaging 14.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and an NBA-best 4.4 blocks per game.
Kirilenko suffered the injury in a 109-76 defeat at San Antonio on Nov. 27— the Spurs 18th straight victory over the Jazz since a 93-90 loss on Feb. 6, 2000. It is the longest losing streak to one team in Utah’s history, which includes eight losses in a row at the Delta Center.
San Antonio has won 12 of its last 14 games, including a 99-90 victory over Denver on Saturday. Bruce Bowen finished with 17 points, including three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and held Denver leading scorer Carmelo Anthony to eight points.
“My role is to play defense,” said Bowen, who outscored Kobe Bryant 24-17 in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers during the week. “The way we play, with the constant ball movement, I get the benefit of a lot of open shots.”
Manu Ginobili scored 22 points, Tony Parker added 20 and Tim Duncan had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Spurs, who continue to dominate on defense. They lead the NBA in scoring defense (85.6 points per game), field goal percentage defense (41.6 percent), blocks (6.6), and point differential (11.7).
San Antonio leads the all-time series 73-62 but is 22-44 at Utah.