Warriors-Jazz Preview

The Associated Press

The Utah Jazz were in the Western Conference playoff picture last month following their longest winning streak of the season.

They are quickly falling out of contention.

Utah tries to avoid a sixth loss in eight games Friday night in Salt Lake City, where it will close out its season series with the Golden State Warriors.

Tied with Denver and Houston for the seventh-best record in the West following their season-high sixth consecutive win, 121-102 over Denver on March 23, the Jazz (28-27) dropped to 10th with Wednesday's 107-105 home loss to Phoenix.

If Utah is going to make up the 1 1/2-game deficit it faces against the Nuggets and Rockets for eighth place, the team will have to start stronger. The Jazz are surrendering an average of 34.0 first-quarter points in their last four contests.

"We can't wait to get ourselves going - we've got to be ready to go right from the beginning and set the tempo," said coach Tyrone Corbin, whose team opens a home-and-home set with Southwest Division-leading San Antonio on Sunday.

It's uncertain if point guard Devin Harris (sprained left ankle) will be able to help the Jazz do that as they try to avoid their first three-game home losing streak since a five-game skid March 24-April 7, 2011.

Utah has dropped its last two at EnergySolutions Arena by a combined three points - both were reviewed at the end of regulation following a Jazz putback - since a season-best 7-0 run in Salt Lake City.

The Warriors (21-32) have dropped nine of 11 on the road in this series following a 99-92 overtime defeat on March 17, but they arrive in Utah with a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game stretch March 10-13.

Led by a season-best 31 points from David Lee and 19 from Charles Jenkins, who scored seven of the team's last nine, Golden State rallied from 20 down in the first half Wednesday for a 97-94 victory over Minnesota.

"We could've very easily folded the tent,'' coach Mark Jackson said after his team snapped a season-high six-game slide. "Give our guys credit, they bounced back, they made plays, the third quarter (outscoring Minnesota 38-20) was huge for us.''

Jenkins, a second-round pick out of Hofstra, has averaged 13.9 points with 5.3 assists in the last seven games - six starts - with Stephen Curry continuing to sit with a sprain in his surgically repaired right ankle.

"I'm not surprised because he's a gamer,'' Jackson said of Jenkins.

Fellow rookie Klay Thompson, who has slid into the starting five since Monta Ellis' departure, is scoring 17.6 points per game in the last 15 - second only to Lee's 22.9.

Thompson could see plenty of time matched up against Gordon Hayward, who has a team-best 51 points as the Jazz have won two of three from Golden State this season. Hayward has averaged 18.4 point and 6.2 rebounds in the last five games after notching his first career double-double Wednesday with 20 points and a career-best 10 boards.

Jazz forward Derrick Favors set career highs with 23 points and 17 rebounds in the Warriors' lone visit to Salt Lake City this season.

Lee has averaged 18.0 points and 12.0 boards in 2011-12 against Utah, which owns Golden State's first-round pick provided it's not in the top seven.

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