Sacramento (15-44) at Utah (32-30)

By NOEY KUPCHAN, STATS Writer Friday, Mar 4, 2011 Tipoff: 9:00 pm EST Sat Mar 5, 2011

The Utah Jazz have made four consecutive postseason appearances due in part to their dominance at home.

Their recent play in Salt Lake City, though, has hurt their chances of extending that playoff run.

Looking for their first home victory in more than a month, the Jazz hope to avoid a ninth loss in 10 games overall when they face the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

Utah (32-30) went an NBA-best 133-31 at home from 2006-07 through 2009-10 and made the playoffs in each of those four seasons.

However, since defeating Charlotte 83-78 on Jan. 31, the Jazz have lost seven straight in Salt Lake - their longest home skid since losing a franchise-record 12 in a row Feb. 15-March 29, 1982.

The Jazz have fallen to 10th in the Western Conference by losing 17 of 22 overall, including the last three by five points or less.

They fell 103-101 to Denver on Thursday night after Andrei Kirilenko(notes) stole an inbounds pass with 1.2 seconds remaining but lost the ball under the basket as the buzzer sounded.

“We got a lot of ball left to play, (Thursday) is a prime example - as long as there’s some time on the clock, you still have a chance to win the game,” said coach Tyrone Corbin, 1-6 since taking over for Jerry Sloan. “We never quit on the game, and as long as we don’t do that, don’t quit on each other, we got a chance to work our way out of this thing.”

One positive sign Thursday was Devin Harris(notes) scoring 21 points, his most in four games since being acquired from New Jersey in the Deron Williams(notes) deal. He had a season-high four 3-pointers and nine assists.

Al Jefferson(notes) has averaged 26.0 points and 10.9 rebounds over the last seven games, but the Jazz have struggled defensively during that stretch as they’ve allowed an average of 105.9 points.

Defense also has been a problem for Sacramento (15-44), giving up an average of 109.9 points in the last 13 games.

The Kings dropped to 3-11 since the beginning of February with a 107-102 loss to Portland on Wednesday night.

Marcus Thornton(notes) followed a season-best 29-point performance with 26 against the Blazers and is averaging 21.0 in four games since New Orleans shipped him to Sacramento.

Rookie DeMarcus Cousins(notes) had a season-high-tying 28 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday in his third game since being removed from the starting lineup.

“It’s all a learning experience for him, everything is new,” coach Paul Westphal said. “DeMarcus learns from doing, rather than having somebody tell him what’s going to happen. … I think that the more things he has happen to him, both good and bad, the more he’ll be able to be consistent in the future.”

Cousins, the fifth overall pick in the draft, is averaging 21.5 points - 7.6 better than his season mark - and 11.5 rebounds in two meetings with Utah.

It’s unclear if he’ll go up against fellow rookie forward Derrick Favors(notes), also acquired in the Williams deal, because the third overall pick sat out Thursday due to a cold.

The Kings continue to play without reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans(notes) (foot) but could have swingman Francisco Garcia(notes) available after a strained left calf sidelined him for 21 games.

Utah has taken seven of nine against Sacramento - including both meetings this season - and six of seven at home in the series while averaging 108.6 points.

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