Wolves-Utah game preview
- February 21, 2012 - 10:54 PM
Preview: The Jazz (15-16) has lost two in a row, four of five and nine of its past 12 after starting the season 12-7 thanks to an early schedule heavy with home dates. Utah's decline is important to Timberwolves fans because the Jazz owes Minnesota a protected first-round draft pick this summer if it makes the playoffs. Right now, the Jazz is on the outside looking in, 11th in the Western Conference and a fraction behind the 10th-place Wolves. ... Utah is 12-6 at home and 3-10 on the road. ...The Jazz beat the Wolves in the teams' first meeting this season, 108-98 in Salt Lake City on Jan. 21. Paul Millsap scored 26 points, and the Jazz ended Kevin Love's season-opening streak of double-doubles at 15.
Players to watch: Former Wolves center Al Jefferson leads the Jazz in scoring with a 19.1-point average and in blocked shots (1.61). He also is averaging 9.3 rebounds and has double-doubles in five of his past six games ... Jazz guard Gordon Hayward will participate in the All-Star Rising Stars Challenge game with the Wolves' Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams on Friday in Orlando. He is starting for the Jazz and averaging 9.5 points and 3.2 assists. Utah forward Derrick Favors also could be added to the game. ... The Jazz took Turkish center Enes Kanter third overall last summer, one pick after the Wolves selected Williams. Kanter is averaging 14.7 minutes, 5.2 points and 5.3 rebounds. Williams is averaging 18.4 minutes, 7.1 points and 4 rebounds a game.
Injuries: Wolves C Nikola Pekovic (sprained ankle) and C Darko Milicic (abdominal strain) are questionable, and G Malcolm Lee (knee surgery) remains out. Utah lists G Raja Bell (abductor strain) as a game-time decision.
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