Golden State (32-20) at Utah (34-19)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Salt Lake City, UT
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Tue Feb 19, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Utah Jazz spoiled the Golden State Warriors’ improbable run in last season’s playoffs, then helped them get off to a terrible start to 2007-08.

But this time, the Warriors and the Jazz meet as equals, with each team riding an impressive run and looking to establish itself among the Western Conference’s elite as the season enters the home stretch.

Utah will hope to extend its home winning streak to 13 when it faces Golden State on Tuesday in the teams’ first game after the All-Star break.

The Warriors’ 2006-07 season ended in Salt Lake City when the Jazz ousted the eighth-seeded Warriors in five games in the conference semifinals, one round after Golden State had shocked top-seeded Dallas.

The teams then played twice in the first three games of 2007-08, with the Jazz (34-19) twice routing the Warriors (32-20), who stumbled to an 0-6 start. Utah averaged 125.0 points in the two games, winning by at least 21 each time and outrebounding Golden State 94-67.

“We know they wanted payback from us ending their season,” Utah point guard Deron Williams said after the season opener, a 117-96 Jazz win in Oakland. “We didn’t try to get into a track race with them, because they would win that. We just kept it to our pace and drove them into the ground.”

Williams had 54 points and 19 assists in the two games against Golden State, and has been a big reason for Utah’s current run. Williams, who beat Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade in the Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend, has a double-double in 11 of the past 12 games.

The Jazz are 24-6 this season when he records a double-double. They’ve won 12 of 13 overall and 12 straight at home, improving to 22-3 at EnergySolutions Arena.

Their last loss there was 104-98 to NBA-leading Boston on Dec. 29, but since that game, they are 18-3 overall and have taken over the lead in the Northwest Division.

“We’ve turned it up,” forward Carlos Boozer said after getting his first career triple-double in Utah’s 112-93 win at Seattle last Wednesday. “The (likely) Jason Kidd trade to Dallas, the Shaq trade to Phoenix, the Pau Gasol trade to the Lakers - the West is much improved. We have to keep up.”

Boozer had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against the SuperSonics, then added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the West in Sunday’s All-Star game. He had double-doubles in 12 of the last 16 games before the break.

While the Mavericks, Suns and Lakers are certainly among the West’s best, the Warriors are also hoping to enter that conversation, especially after beating Phoenix 120-118 Wednesday in their last game before the break.

Monta Ellis had 37 points while Baron Davis added 27 points and 13 assists. Ellis has shot 69.5 percent (57-of-82) from the field in his last five games, averaging 27.8 points over that span.

Golden State has won three straight, five of six and 12 of its last 16, moving to 12 games over .500 for the first time since the 1993-94 season. But the Warriors are still tied with Denver and Houston for the West’s No. 7 seed.

“That was our goal to be 10 games above .500 going into the All-Star break and give ourselves a chance,” Davis said. “That was our goal and we’re ahead of schedule.”

The Warriors - the NBA’s highest-scoring team - have reached at least 100 points in 16 straight games, averaging 113.8 over that stretch, nearly four above their season average of 109.9.

Utah has scored at least 100 in each of its last nine games against the Warriors - including postseason. Golden State has also lost seven straight in Salt Lake City, including all three games there during last season’s playoff series.

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Tuesday, Feb 19