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News » Jazz-Mavericks Preview

Jazz-Mavericks Preview

Jazz-Mavericks Preview
The Utah Jazz already have the Northwest Division title locked up, but they still have plenty to play for.

The Jazz look to move closer to securing home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason when they visit the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday.

Utah (52-26) clinched its second straight Northwest title on Tuesday with a 77-66 win in New Orleans, but even with first place in the division sewn up, the Jazz will have to earn one of the best four records in the Western Conference to get home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They are an NBA-best 35-4 at home.

On the other hand, a strong finish and a little luck could get Utah into first place in the conference before the end of the regular season.

"That's on us. If we keep playing the way we are, we could end up having the home court," said Deron Williams, who had 16 assists and outplayed star New Orleans guard Chris Paul on Tuesday.

The victory was the fourth straight for Utah, which won despite posting a season low in points. The Jazz's defense held New Orleans to its lowest total of the season four days after its best performance of the season, a 90-64 win over San Antonio.

"We're trying to get sharpened up for the playoffs," said forward Carlos Boozer, who had 10 points. "We didn't shoot the ball very well tonight, but we played good enough defense to win the game and for us that's a bigger sign. ... If we can play defense like this and like the way we played against San Antonio, we're going to have some more wins."

Mehmet Okur had 22 points and 17 rebounds and led the Jazz in scoring for a third straight game Tuesday. Okur has averaged 19.3 points in four games since missing two because of illness.

"I feel really good right now," he said. "I try to stay active on the boards, grab every rebound out there, start the game with a couple easy baskets, then I step back. I've really got my confidence."

Utah has won four of six against the Mavericks (49-29), but has dropped eight of nine in Dallas. The Mavericks are three games behind Utah in the West, and two ahead of Denver and Golden State, who are tied for the final playoff spot in the conference and play each other on Thursday.

"I've never seen the playoffs start a month before the playoffs, and that's pretty exciting," coach Avery Johnson told Dallas' official Web site.

The Mavericks have won four of five overall, including Tuesday's 99-83 victory over Seattle. Jason Terry scored 22 points and Josh Howard added 17 for Dallas, which came back from a 13-point deficit to beat Phoenix in its previous game on Sunday.

The Mavericks had dropped five of six before their current five-game run.

"This is not a bad time to be playing your best basketball with the playoffs right around the corner," point guard Jason Kidd said. "We've had our tough spells. But we've bent, but didn't break. We're getting confident and playing at a high level."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: April 10, 2008


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