The Utah Jazz look to avoid losing nine in a row on the road for the first time in 23 years, while the New Orleans Hornets try to snap a six-game skid at home when these last-place teams complete their season series.
Utah began a four-game trip on Wednesday and fell 111-86 to the Minnesota Timberwolves for its eighth consecutive road defeat. The Jazz, who also face the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers on the trip, haven’t lost nine straight away from home since a 17-game skid from Nov. 21, 1981-Feb. 6, 1982.
With three of his top five scorers—Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Raja Bell—hurt, coach Jerry Sloan gave veteran point guard Howard Eisley his first start of the season and introduced Utah’s 29th different starting lineup. That’s the most in the NBA this season.
Sloan didn’t get to stick around long to watch. He picked up two technical fouls in the first quarter for griping to referee Ken Mauer, earning his first automatic ejection this season.
“It was one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve had in a long time,” said Sloan, whose streak of 16 straight winning seasons is ending.
New Orleans won its third straight on the road Tuesday night, but lost for the sixth straight time at home Wednesday, 94-83 to the Denver Nuggets.
The Hornets went on a 14-1 run in the fourth quarter to cut a 20-point lead to seven, but Denver’s Andre Miller hit a jumper and a pair of free throws in the final two minutes to stop New Orleans’ late rally.
“For whatever reason it looked like we just weren’t here tonight,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “Again, we get down early. When you get down early to a good team like this, it’s going to be hard to keep trying to fight back. … Tonight it caught up to us.”
The Hornets put guard Speedy Claxton on the injured list Friday because of a strained right groin and activated forward-center Maciej Lampe. Jamaal Magloire, who has back spasms, and Chris Andersen, who has a sprained right ankle, both are out for Friday’s game.
New Orleans has won two of three meetings with Utah this season after dropping four of the previous five in the series.