Jazz vs. Warriors: Overcoming road demons key as Utah chases Lakers

Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

The Utah Jazz aim to keep pace with the Los Angeles Lakers for a playoff bid in the Bay Area as the Golden State Warriors fight to lock up their first playoff appearance since 2007.

Chasing the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers, the Utah Jazz and coach Tyrone Corbin are running out of chances. And at a half-game behind the Lakers, only five games remain on Utah's schedule to equal Los Angeles' record, thus winning the playoff spot because of a tie-breaker.

So a visit to the Golden State Warriors is of the utmost importance. Playing in ORACLE Arena, the Jazz's 11-27 road record will be put to the test, and it doesn't help that Utah faces Mark Jackson's upstart squad, which has great incentive Sunday evening as well.

A victory secures the Warriors' spot in the postseason, their first since the eighth-seeded club in 2007 upset the Dallas Mavericks in the first-round before falling to Utah in the Western Conference semifinals.

Golden State comes off a gut-check victory against the lowly Phoenix Suns.

Faced with an 18-point deficit in the first half, the Warriors attacked the Suns and held them to 14 third-quarter points, then made enough big plays down the stretch to hold them off, 111-107. Though Stephen Curry entered the contest averaging 25 points per game in his last 10, he took what the defense gave him and handed out 15 assists as the Suns took away his own offense.

Meanwhile, Klay Thompson, who hadn't shot above 45 percent during a game since March 17, found his groove by hitting 10-of-18 from the floor for a team-high 25 points.

The Warriors have won seven of their last nine games, but the Jazz are hot as well.

Utah has won all but one of its last seven games, though only one of those games was on the road.

An inside-out game

On Friday, the Jazz beat the New Orleans Hornets, 95-83, and got some solid performances out of the usual characters. Paul Millsap was three assists shy of a triple-double, Gordon Hayward scored 23 and hit five three-pointers, and Derrick Favors contributed a double-double and six blocks.

Utah's frontcourt will test the Warriors, who have a limited Andrew Bogut in the middle. David Lee, not known for his defense, will have to hold his own against the Jazz's deep rotation, not to mention the possibility of Corbin's team looking to throw the ball to center Al Jefferson early and often.

At the same time, Golden State will have the obvious advantage on the perimeter. The Warriors hit 9-of-16 three-pointers against the Suns on Friday, pushing their NBA-leading three-point average to 40.1 percent on the year.

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: CSN Bay Area/ROOT Sports

Odds: Golden State opened as a five-point favorite.

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