A four-game road trip for a team yet to win away from home doesn't seem ideal, but the Utah Jazz have reason to believe their jaunt will get started on a positive note.
Utah can avoid dropping to 0-5 as a visitor for the first time in 25 years by winning its seventh consecutive road meeting with the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
The Jazz pulled away for a 94-81 win against visiting Phoenix on Saturday behind a season-high 27 points from Al Jefferson, who battled through a stomach illness.
"We knew we had to close it out at the end,'' said Jefferson, who finished with 14 rebounds. "(Millsap and I are) two of the three leaders on this team and one of our leaders (Williams) was out. We just had to step up. It was a big game before we hit the road, and the way we played (Friday), we had to have a special night.''
Jefferson was referencing the previous night's 104-84 loss to Denver that marked Utah's fourth straight road defeat to open the season. The Jazz, who also face Boston, Philadelphia and Washington on their trip, haven't dropped their first five games on the road since 1987.
It's unclear if they'll have Williams, who is averaging team highs of 16.8 points and 6.3 assists, on Monday, though Jamaal Tinsley proved to be an adequate replacement Saturday.
The veteran went scoreless but dished out 14 assists - his most since finishing with 15 while playing for Indiana on Feb. 11, 2007.
"I thought he was great,'' coach Tyrone Corbin said. "For the most part he got us into the stuff we needed to get into. I just respect his professionalism.''
Tinsley could start again as Utah seeks to extend its road winning streak over the Raptors. It hasn't lost in Toronto since 2004, and it had won 12 straight overall matchups until the Raptors' 111-106 double-overtime victory in the most recent meeting Jan. 25.
Toronto (1-5) is coming off a 93-83 home loss to Philadelphia on Saturday, again failing to put together a complete effort in its third straight loss.
Andrea Bargnani scored a game-high 23 points and Jose Calderon added 14 and 11 assists for the Raptors, who shot 2 for 20 while being outscored 32-7 in the second quarter.
"We've been talking in all the games, we play good for three quarters, we lose it in one, everything we worked for," Calderon told the team's official website. "It's happening so many times. It's always playing good for a while and then we hit that wall and stop playing. It looks like we forget to play basketball."
It's unclear if either Kyle Lowry or Landry Fields will be available after both sat out Saturday. Lowry sprained his right ankle in Tuesday's loss to Oklahoma City and Fields is nursing a tender right wrist.
Alan Anderson started for Fields on Saturday but is unlikely to play against Utah after spraining his left foot.
Linas Kleiza, who made his season debut Saturday after attending to a family issue, and Bargnani each scored 25 points to trump Millsap's 31 in the last meeting.
- Sports & Recreation
- Utah Jazz
- Paul Millsap
- Toronto Raptors
- Al Jefferson