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News » A rare turkey day game for Jazz

A rare turkey day game for Jazz

A rare turkey day game for Jazz As much as the day is defined by turkey, football and family, this Thanksgiving also will include a serving of Basketball for the Jazz and their fans. For the first time since the franchise moved to Utah, in fact, the Jazz are scheduled to play on the holiday.

Traditionally, the Jazz have asked the NBA to host games the day after Thanksgiving (as well as the day after Christmas) given the appeal for relocated Utahns returning for the holidays who want to see the team play.

This year, the Jazz were approached by the league about taking part in a TNT-televised Thanksgiving doubleheader. They agreed, and as a result, the Jazz will host Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls at 8:30 p.m. at EnergySolutions Arena.

"We thought, you know what, the positive thing is people eat Thanksgiving early enough, and what do you then do Thanksgiving night?" Jazz president Randy Rigby said. "So we thought with it being a late game that really people would enjoy having something to do."

The Jazz haven't been scheduled for one of the NBA's marquee Christmas games since 1997, so tonight's game will offer a holiday showcase of sorts for one of the league's small-market teams.

"It should be fun," Deron Williams said. "We know a lot of people will be watching, a lot of people will be tuned in, so it's a good chance for us to show the country what we've got."

At the same time, Basketball hardly is the sport best associated with Thanksgiving. The NBA went dark on the holiday in both 2006 and 2007 before returning last season. The Jazz -Bulls game will be up against a Broncos-Giants game on NFL Network.

From the Jazz's perspective, Rigby said ticket sales have been good and the overall response positive to playing on Thanksgiving.

"You do think naturally of football because you're right in the heat of football season," Rigby said. "I think people think sports, though. People are looking for something to be able to watch or go and sit down and see it in an arena, so I think it's going to work out great."

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is no stranger to Thanksgiving games from his playing days with the Bulls, who almost always spend the holiday on the road, with the circus in town.

"I always thought that was something you adjust around your family the best you can," Sloan said, adding, "If you like to play Basketball, you can always eat afterwards."

Even after Tuesday's loss to Oklahoma City, Sloan opted to give the Jazz players Wednesday off to spend with their families. He will keep their game-day routine the same today by holding a morning shootaround.

"That may slap me in the face, that's happened before, but I think they have a certain amount of responsibility ... to try to be with their kids and that sort of thing," Sloan said. "I accommodate them as much as I can and still try to do our job, and that's to try to win a game."

The game features two strong storylines, with Carlos Boozer facing the Bulls for the first time in the regular season since he expressed his desire to be traded to Chicago this summer, first doing so in an interview on the Bulls' flagship radio station.

In addition, Williams and Rose -- two of the NBA's top young point guards -- will battle at full strength for the first time. Williams suffered the worst injury of his career last preseason when he came down from a jumper on Rose's foot and badly sprained his ankle.

Williams sat out one game against Rose and the Bulls with the injury and still was limited in their other meeting. Rose, who was last season's Rookie of the Year, then missed an October exhibition game in London against the Jazz with an ankle injury of his own.

The Bulls have dropped three games in a row to the L.A. Lakers, Denver and Portland on their current trip. The Jazz , meanwhile, are desperate to regain their edge at home after suffering three losses at EnergySolutions Arena already this month.

"We need wins, bad," Paul Millsap said. "We're not really used to losing like this, especially in games that we know we should win. Hopefully, we just come back and try to shake this off and get a win Thursday."

The Jazz last lost four home games in a month in January 2007. The combined record of the three teams to beat them at home this season -- Houston, Sacramento and Oklahoma City -- was 21-21 entering Wednesday.

"We've just got to get that fire back, just get that confidence back that we can beat anybody." Williams said. "We used to think when people come in here, it's an automatic loss [for them]. We've got to get that back. Start having fun, too." Jazz vs. Bulls

At EnergySolutions Arena

Time ? 8:30 p.m.


Radio ? 1320 AM, 98.7 FM

Records ? Jazz 7-7, Chicago 6-7

Last meeting ? Bulls, 106-98 (Dec. 20)

Line ? Jazz by 8

About the Jazz ? The Jazz have lost three consecutive games to the Bulls, including a season series sweep in 2008-09. ... Carlos Boozer is averaging 22.8 points and 11.2 rebounds while shooting 55.8 percent the last six games. ... The Jazz will look to improve after committing 24 turnovers in Tuesday's loss to Oklahoma City, including seven by Deron Williams. ... Wesley Matthews has failed to score in double figures the last four games.

About the Bulls ? The Bulls are just 2-6 on the road this season, having beaten only Cleveland and Sacramento. ... Joakim Noah has posted some of the NBA's most impressive numbers this season, averaging 11.5 points and 11.9 rebounds. Noah leads the NBA in rebounding ahead of Chris Bosh, Gerald Wallace and Dwight Howard. ... Derrick Rose averaged 24.5 points and 6.0 assists against the Jazz last season. ... Rookie Taj Gibson has averaged 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds starting in place of the injured Tyrus Thomas. Holiday games

The Jazz have been all but forgotten on the NBA's holiday schedule in recent years, going 12 years since last playing on Christmas and 31 years since last playing on Thanksgiving:

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 27, 2009


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