Based on their history in Salt Lake City, that won’t be easy.
The Trail Blazers look to bounce back from a surprising home loss Saturday night and avoid their 15th loss in their last 17 visits to Utah.
Utah (8-7) had a three-game winning streak snapped when it fell 104-94 at home to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, but didn’t stay down for long. The Jazz shot a season-high 60.8 percent in a 105-86 rout of Chicago on Thursday.
Portland (12-6) suffered an even more stunning home defeat Friday. The Trail Blazers fell behind Memphis by 29 points late in the second quarter and couldn’t close the gap in a 106-96 loss to the Grizzlies, who had been 1-7 on the road.
“That team comes in here and jumps on us like that? No energy. I thought for most of the game there was no energy and really no excuse for no energy,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “I don’t know if we thought this was going to be easy or what. It just shows that if we don’t come to play, anybody can beat us.”
It could be tough for Portland to avoid its first consecutive losses since Oct. 29-31, considering its track record in Utah. The Blazers are 2-14 there since Dec. 14, 2001, losing by an average of 8.6 points. Mehmet Okur(notes) averaged 24.5 points in a pair of Jazz wins over the Blazers in Salt Lake City last season.
Boozer didn’t look much like the player who had become a 20-point, 10-rebound regular when he missed 45 games last season due to injury, but he’s bouncing back nicely so far in 2009-10. Boozer has averaged 27.0 points and shot 79.3 percent in his last two games, and his point guard couldn’t be happier.
“You can see he’s back to where he was a couple of years ago when he was an All-Star,” Deron Williams(notes) said. “Hopefully he can just keep producing like this because he’s playing great on both ends of the floor.”
Okur and Boozer may be in for more of a challenge in the paint considering Portland center Greg Oden’s(notes) marked improvement. The former No. 1 overall pick showed limited offensive skills as a rookie last season - he averaged 8.3 points in three games against Utah - but he’s been much better in his second season. Oden has averaged 17.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while shooting 70.5 percent over his past five games.
The Blazers are 6-1 when Oden scores at least 14 points.
On the perimeter, the Jazz will need to find an answer for Brandon Roy(notes). The two-time All-Star averaged 26.5 points last season against Utah, though Portland seems at its best in 2009-10 season when Roy’s teammates are more involved. The Blazers are 0-3 when Roy scores more than 25 points.