Jazz host Mavericks looking to start new winning streak

STATS/TSX

SALT LAKE CITY -- Rebuilding momentum becomes the newest task for Utah.

The Jazz had their 11-game winning streak snapped with a loss to Portland in their first game back from the NBA All-Star break. Now they feel a bit of pressure to get back on track against Dallas on Saturday night.

Turnovers were a major culprit behind the 100-81 setback to the Blazers on Friday. Utah coughed up 20 turnovers through four quarters, which led to 22 points for Portland. It kept the Jazz from finding an offensive rhythm as the game progressed.

"We were kind of waiting for something good to happen and nothing good happened and we weren't able to overcome that," Utah coach Quin Snyder said.

Such sloppy play stood in stark contrast to the efficiency the Jazz (30-29) showed during their lengthy winning streak. Utah averaged 13.6 turnovers per game in that stretch and the Jazz tallied 19 turnovers combined over their two most recent wins.

It offers hope to Utah's players and coaches that the performance against Portland is an aberration rather than the beginning of a negative trend.

"We were just making sloppy passes," Jazz forward/center Derrick Favors said. "It's easy stuff to clean up. We've been off for a week, so guys are going to come in kind of rusty. Just got to find that rhythm again that we had before we went off. We got it out of the way in this game, so the next game should be better."

The Mavericks did not fare much better in their return from the All-Star break. Dallas (18-41) lost for the fifth time in February after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers 124-102 on Friday.

Defense has been a major sore spot for the team during a stretch where Dallas has lost 13 of 16 games. In their last eight contests alone, the Mavericks have allowed 111.4 points per contest. Five of their last seven opponents have shot better than 50 percent from the field.

The team's struggles have been colored by recent comments from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that drew some ire from the NBA. Cuban suggested on a podcast during the All-Star break that Dallas should deliberately lose games the rest of the season to improve its position in the draft lottery for the upcoming NBA Draft.

Players on the Mavericks roster don't share that opinion.

"Players never play to lose," veteran forward Dirk Nowitzki told reporters earlier in the week. "It might happen, but you don't play for it. I still love to compete. That's one big reason why I'm still out there. I'll never stand for losing on purpose. It's just not who I am."

Dallas is facing Utah for the second time this season. The Jazz have won four of the last five regular-season meetings between the two teams. Utah defeated the Mavericks 104-89 on Oct. 30 behind 25 points from Rodney Hood and 20 points from Ricky Rubio.

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