The Utah Jazz had to work overtime in their last game to record their longest winning streak in nearly nine years. To further extend it, they’ll need a victory in a place where they’ve been dominated regularly for the past decade.
Utah looks to win 11 straight for the first time since 1999 on Friday when it travels to Sacramento to face the resurgent Kings.
The Jazz (32-18) have won 10 in a row, their longest streak since taking 11 straight from April 2-18, 1999. But they’ve lost 10 of their last 13 trips to Arco Arena, and have been outscored by 17.6 points in those 10 defeats.
Utah has lost the season series against the Kings (22-25) every season since 2000-01. But it has taken two of three meetings this season, meaning it can win the series outright with a victory in Sacramento.
The Jazz had been pretty overpowering during the first nine victories of their streak, winning by an average of 13.7 points. But they received a stiff test on Wednesday in Denver, blowing a 15-point halftime lead before needing overtime to knock off the Nuggets 118-115.
“You win games like this when you are playing well,” forward Kyle Korver said. “Our confidence was high going into the game.”
Korver’s performance was one of the reasons the Jazz were able to extend their streak. He scored a season-high 27 points and is averaging 20.3 points in his last three games, shooting 61.1 percent.
Utah was 16-16 before Korver joined the lineup following a trade from Philadelphia at the end of December. Since that deal, the team is 16-2 and has jumped from third place to the top of the Northwest Division.
A big reason for Utah’s success has been Deron Williams. The third-year point guard, left off the Western Conference All-Star team, is averaging 18.9 points and 11.3 assists since Korver arrived.
Williams is averaging 23.0 points and 10.5 assists in his last two games against the Kings. He had 16 points and 14 assists in Utah’s 127-113 victory over Sacramento on Jan. 25.
The Kings have won four of five and seven of their past 10, but it may not mean much in the big picture. Denver, which currently holds the West’s final playoff spot, is 6 1/2 games ahead of Sacramento.
If the Kings are to make a serious run toward the postseason, they’ll have to play better than they did in their last game. Sacramento lost 105-92 at home Wednesday to Seattle, which has the second-worst record in the conference, ending the Kings’ season-high four-game winning streak.
“It’s a tough one,” coach Reggie Theus said. “We just didn’t come out and play with the focus and the presence of mind that it would take to win five in a row.”
Mike Bibby had a rough night against Seattle, shooting 4-of-15 from the field. He’s struggled with his shot since playing his first game of the season on Jan. 16 following a thumb injury, making just 38.1 percent of his attempts.
Bibby is averaging 9.8 points on 30.9 percent shooting in his last four games.
Kevin Martin had a season-low five points against the Sonics, a rare poor performance from the team’s leading scorer (23.7). He’d averaged 25.6 points over his previous five games, including a 32-point effort in the loss to Utah on Jan. 25.