If the Jazz keep dealing with poor health better than the Spurs have, they could be headed for their first win in San Antonio this decade when the teams meet Friday night.
Including three games there in the 2007 Western Conference finals, Utah (8-4) has lost 21 in a row at San Antonio (5-6) since Feb. 28, 1999. During that skid, the Jazz have not scored more than 100 points and only two of the games were decided by fewer than six points - the Spurs’ average margin of victory has been 15.3.
San Antonio is 2-4 at home this season - the team was 34-7 in 2007-08 - and its overall record is under .500 this late in a season for the first time since being 6-8 in 1999.
The poor start could be blamed on injuries to All-Stars Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, two of their top three scorers from last season. Parker hasn’t played in two weeks due to a sprained ankle and is not expected to return until next month, as is the case for Ginobili, who’s recovering from offseason ankle surgery.
An ankle injury also has sidelined Deron Williams, who averaged 18.8 points and 10.5 assists last season, and he’s missed all but two of Utah’s games but is on the verge of returning. It’s unlikely, though, that he will be available Friday.
The same could be said for star forward Carlos Boozer, who strained his left quadriceps Wednesday in a 104-94 win over Milwaukee.
“It’s good to keep winning, but we need to stop losing people. We won, but if we keep losing people that’s not good,” said Andrei Kirilenko, who missed two games last week with a sprained finger.
Kirilenko could see more time at point guard Friday if Williams remains sidelined and backup Brevin Knight misses a second straight game due to a strained groin. Utah led by as many as 16 when the 6-foot-9 forward was at the point Wednesday, and he finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, five steals, four blocks and three assists.
C.J. Miles will be counted on again if Boozer is out. The fourth-year swingman had a season-high 25 points Wednesday, scoring in double figures for the fourth time in five games after failing to do so through the season’s first seven games.
The Spurs offense will continue to go through Tim Duncan, though Utah might employ similar defensive tactics as Denver did Wednesday in a 91-81 win over the Spurs. Duncan was held to a season-low 12 points and attempted a season-low 13 shots from the field, making only four.
His teammates didn’t provide much help. San Antonio, which had a three-game win streak snapped, went 2-of-17 from 3-point range and shot 38.7 percent from the field.
“A lot of people go to try and take Tim out of his game, and Tim’s going to adjust to that. We have to adjust to that,” said Spurs guard George Hill, starting in place of Parker. “I think it’s a learning point. We go watch film and see how we can react to that when it happens again, and next time it happens to go out there and be successful at it.”