The Utah Jazz were in a slump offensively before they embarked on a four-game road trip more than a week ago, but they return home winners of three straight.
The Jazz look to build on that momentum when they try for their sixth consecutive win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.
Utah (21-9) is coming off a 3-1 road trip in which it averaged 102.7 points over the final three games after opening the trek with a 100-71 loss to New Orleans on Dec. 17. The Jazz closed the trip by rallying for a 112-107 win at Minnesota on Wednesday.
Deron Williams(notes) had 25 points and seven assists while Al Jefferson(notes) added 23 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven blocked shots. Jefferson scored 12 of his team’s 41 fourth-quarter points to help Utah overcome a 12-point deficit.
The victory moved coach Jerry Sloan past Pat Riley on the career wins list with 1,211. Only Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332) have more victories in league history.
Sloan and the Jazz now return home looking to continue their recent improvement on offense. Prior to the winning streak, the Jazz averaged 95.1 points during a 3-4 stretch.
Jefferson has been a big factor in the last three wins, averaging 19 points and 10.3 rebounds. He averaged 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in the previous three games.
“You’ve got to stay consistent and continue to work on it every day and try to continue to win games,” he said.
Jefferson had one of his best game of the season against Portland last month, tallying 20 points and 14 rebounds in the 103-94 victory Nov. 20. The win was Utah’s fifth straight in the series. The Jazz have also won five in a row at home over the Trail Blazers.
Portland (15-15) is looking to bounce back after a 109-102 loss at Golden State on Saturday, which snapped a three-game winning streak. The loss was the Blazers’ fourth straight on the road, however. They’ve dropped 11 of their last 13 away from home.
Portland was in position to end the road skid Saturday, but squandered a 97-91 lead with five minutes remaining after going scoreless over a 3 1/2-minute span.
It was the third time in the last five games the Blazers gave up more than 100 points after they went the previous 11 games without allowing an opponent to reach the century mark.
Those defensive struggles aren’t a positive sign as Portland visits Salt Lake City, where the Blazers have only two wins in the last decade. In the last nine home games in the series, the Jazz have averaged 106.9 points and shot better than 60 percent from the field in the last two.
Williams has averaged 17 points and 13 assists in his last three home games against Portland.
The teams will meet again at the Rose Garden on Thursday.
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