Utah looks to avoid its season-high fifth straight loss when it hosts the streaking Warriors on Tuesday.
The Jazz (43-23) are coming off an 0-4 road trip that included losses to two sub-.500 teams. Utah - second in the league in field-goal percentage at 47.5 percent - shot just 41.8 percent on the trip, including a 34.9 percent performance in its 82-73 loss to Cleveland on Saturday.
“Obviously we’re not making shots,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “The shots that went in a couple of weeks ago are not going in now. We’re playing under a little more duress than we were then and that’s what I expected with the games we had to play on this trip…If you’re going to take those shots, you got to be able to make them.”
Before the trip, Utah had a five-game cushion over Houston for fourth place in the Western Conference. That lead has now dwindled to 1 1/2 games. The Jazz, though, are headed back to Salt Lake City, where they have won nine of their last 10 games.
“We have to get home and regroup,” Sloan said. “If we continue to play like this, we’ll be going home early for the next 10 years and not worry about the playoffs.”
Golden State (32-36), meanwhile, has won six of seven games to take control of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Warriors have a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers, with three other teams trailing by three games or fewer.
The Warriors protected their narrow lead in the standings on Saturday, when Baron Davis’ jumper with 2.3 seconds left lifted them to a 99-98 win over Seattle. It was Golden State’s third straight victory overall and sixth in a row with Davis in the lineup.
Davis sat out the Warriors’ loss to Portland last week with stiffness in his right knee.
“I made a strong move like I was going to the hole and pulled up and took a rhythm shot,” Davis said of his game-winner. “That’s what I wanted to do was take a rhythm shot and just follow through. If it goes in, it goes in. I don’t mind being the hero or the goat. My teammates have confidence in me.”
In their last seven games, the Warriors - who give up a league-high 106.5 points per game - are holding opponents to 95.4 points on 41.6 percent shooting.
“When you defend, which we’re doing a lot better now, you can win games,” Golden State coach Don Nelson said. “We expect to win games now.”
The Warriors put on their best defensive performance of the season in their last game against Utah, a 91-78 win at home on Nov. 25. The Jazz shot a season-low 32.5 percent from the floor - also a season low for a Warriors opponent - as Golden State evened the season series at one game apiece.