The Utah Jazz have rebounded from a mediocre start, thanks in large part to their strong play at home. To re-establish themselves as Western Conference contenders, however, they’ll need to carry that success to the road.
The Jazz look to bounce back from another humbling road defeat Saturday night when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats, who hope to make up for their own road struggles by continuing their strong start at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Utah is 4-7 on the road this season, with those losses coming by an average of 12.5 points. The Jazz looked particularly sloppy Friday in Atlanta, trailing by as much as 32 before a fourth-quarter surge made their 96-83 loss to the Hawks seem more respectable.
Coach Jerry Sloan pulled his starters midway through the third quarter after Utah (15-11) was outscored 23-6 to start the period. Deron Williams(notes) finished with two points, four assists and four turnovers, and Carlos Boozer(notes) had six points and four turnovers. Utah’s top scorers combined to shoot 3 for 15 from the field.
“We apologize to all the fans,” said Williams, who had averaged 27.8 points, 13.3 assists and 2.0 turnovers while shooting 52.4 percent over his previous four games. “We played like crap. I played like crap. … I’m glad we get to play (Saturday).”
That might not be much of a blessing if the Jazz can’t improve their play as visitors. Dating to last season, Utah is 6-16 on the road since a four-game winning streak outside Salt Lake City from Feb. 25-March 10 - the last time the team won consecutive road games.
Sloan said he has no plans to watch any tape of his team’s latest performance.
“We got caught up in wanting to score,” said Sloan, whose club is 11-4 in Utah. “We had eight assists the first half. We couldn’t shoot it fast enough. And far enough. They just kicked our butts from the jump. … I saw enough of it.”
The Bobcats (10-14) have been even worse than the Jazz on the road, where they’ve won once in 12 games. But they’re 9-3 with six wins in their last seven games in Charlotte.
The Bobcats are hoping a return home can help them rebound from a 101-98 loss at Indiana on Wednesday. Gerald Wallace(notes) had 29 points and 12 rebounds and Stephen Jackson(notes) scored 22, but Charlotte couldn’t overcome a 14-point first-quarter deficit.
“We have to play better at the beginning of games,” said Jackson, who’s tallied at least 22 points in each of his last five games. “We always start slow and use all our energy to get back into the game. You can’t do that on the road against any team.”
The Bobcats and Jazz split two meetings last season, with the home team winning each one. Williams missed both games because of injuries, and Boozer only played in Charlotte, scoring 26 points with 15 rebounds in a 104-96 loss on Nov, 14, 2008.
Wallace has averaged 25.5 points and shot 55.4 percent over his last four games against the Jazz, helping the Bobcats win their last three home games in the series.