After snapping a seven-game overall losing streak against the Indiana Pacers earlier this season, the Utah Jazz look for their first home win against the Pacers in more than four years when the teams meet Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
The surging Jazz (41-19) are riding a four-game winning streak, and have won 12 of 14 games since the end of January. Utah beat the Charlotte Bobcats 120-95 on Monday, when Mehmet Okur scored 32 points and Matt Harpring added 19 off the bench.
“I just felt good out there. My teammates created open shots out there for me. I have confidence in my shots,” said Okur, who made 13 of his 15 field-goal attempts.
Okur is averaging a career-high 18.4 points this season. He missed two games during the 12-2 stretch because of back spasms, which snapped his streak of 233 consecutive games played. After going 13-for-41 and totaling 35 points in his first three games back from the injury, Okur has combined for 60 points and 18 rebounds in the last two contests.
“Memo’s unbelievable,” Andrei Kirilenko said. “He starts to realize he’s an All-Star and he’s really a guy that is carrying the team right now. Memo is a scoring machine, especially in crucial moments.”
Okur has had difficulty against Indiana (29-30), however, averaging just 9.3 points in 13 games - his fourth-lowest average against any team in his career.
During its 14-game hot streak, Utah is averaging 104.6 points per game and has outscored opponents by an average margin of 12.5 points in the 12 victories.
“They (Jazz) are one of the best teams at running their offense; they run, they move, they cut, they slash and they have great passers and they’ve got guys that can make shots,” Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace said.
Utah, which improved to 23-7 in Salt Lake City with Monday’s win, is playing the second of a three-game homestand Wednesday.
The Jazz defeated the Pacers 104-94 on Dec. 17 at Indiana, their first win in the series since a 102-91 victory at home on Dec. 2, 2002. Utah has not swept the two-game season series from Indiana since 2000-01.
The Pacers are looking to stop a six-game losing streak, including a 102-98 defeat to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. The point total was Indiana’s highest during the slide, as Mike Dunleavy led the team with 24 points and Jermaine O’Neal added 22.
However, the Pacers allowed 100 points or more for the seventh time in the last eight games.
“We’ve got to stop people,” Indiana guard Jamaal Tinsley said. “We’re not stopping anyone. We have to play better defensively.”
The Pacers, who are trying to avoid going winless on a four-game road trip, have not lost seven in a row since Nov. 28-Dec. 11, 2004.