The Jazz have plummeted to 10th in the Western Conference by losing 17 of their last 22 games, including seven straight at home — their longest home slide since dropping a franchise-record 12 consecutive from Feb. 15-March 29, 1982.
Traditionally Utah is a league powerhouse on its home floor, compiling a NBA- best 133-31 home record from 2006-07 through 2009-10. The team dropped its seventh straight in Salt Lake City on Thursday, however, when Ty Lawson scored 23 points and hit several key free throws down the stretch, as the Denver Nuggets escaped EnergySolutions Arena with a 103-101 win after Andrei Kirilenko missed a potential game-tying layup at the buzzer.
A Devin Harris three-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining pulled the Jazz within two, and Kenyon Martin bobbled the inbound pass into the hands of Kirilenko, who took a dribble before pivoting toward the basket. The dribble allowed Martin to disrupt Kirilenko as he went up, causing the Russian to loose control of the ball as the buzzer sounded, sending Utah to the setback.
“[Martin’s] hand was on the ball. It wasn’t a foul, but just [a pretty good] play. I didn’t really get the ball,” recalled Kirilenko.
Harris ended with 21 points and nine assists, Al Jefferson posted 19 points and 10 rebounds, and C.J. Miles scored 22 points off the bench for the Jazz, who have lost three straight and eight of nine overall.
The Jazz are now a miserable 1-7 under new head coach Tyrone Corbin, who signed a multi-year contract extension on Wednesday.
The Kings are also coming off a loss Wednesday, falling to Portland 107-102 in Sacramento. Rookie big man DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points to match a career high and also pulled down 11 boards in that one for the Kings, who have dropped 11 of the their last 14 contests. Marcus Thornton added 26 points while Beno Udrih donated 13 points and eight assists in the loss.
“We played a lot of good basketball…The difference came down to a few turnovers,” Kings head coach Paul Westphal said.
Sacramento remains without reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans due to a case of plantar fascitis in his left foot. The team is 3-10 in Evans’ absence this season and went 2-8 without him a year ago.
Utah has won seven of its last nine over the Kings, including a pair of meetings this season.