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Old 04-10-2009, 03:42 AM   #1
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Talking Jazz-Spurs Preview

Jazz-Spurs Preview

For teams fighting for playoff position in the tightly packed Western Conference race, every loss is a significant one.

Though the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs have both learned that lesson the hard way lately, the Spurs have to like their chances of getting back on track in their next game.

The Spurs go for their 20th straight home win over the Jazz on Friday night in a matchup of teams hoping to end their recent struggles and improve their standings for the postseason.

The playoff field in the West is set, and San Antonio (50-28) and Utah (47-31) have each clinched one of the eight spots. But there figures to be a lot of shuffling in the standings over the last six days of the regular season, and based on recent results, that doesn't bode well for either club.

The Spurs have dropped four of their last six to put themselves in danger of letting home-court advantage in the first round slip away after holding the second-best record in the West for most of the season.

With four games left, they're only three games ahead of eighth place and a first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, who have clinched the No. 1 seed.

Maintaining their current position could be tough with Manu Ginobili out for the rest of the season - including playoffs - with an ankle injury and Tim Duncan also hobbling. Duncan, bothered by aching knees since the All-Star break, was pulled with nearly eight minutes remaining in a 95-83 home loss to Portland on Wednesday night after he appeared stiff while awkwardly reaching for a loose ball.

"I didn't like the way he moved on a loose ball, so I just pulled him," said coach Gregg Popovich, who was playing Duncan on back-to-back nights for the first time since March 1-2. "He went tonight because he felt good. When I thought he didn't, that's when I decided to pull him."

Tony Parker, the only fully healthy member of the Spurs' trio of stars, isn't focused on the team's injury woes.

"People don't realize Timmy's been playing on one leg for like a month and a half," Parker said. "We can't pay attention to that. We just have to take a challenge and play harder."

The Jazz haven't posed much of a challenge to the Spurs in San Antonio over the last decade. They've dropped 19 straight road games against the Spurs by an average of 16.1 points since their last win in San Antonio on Feb. 28, 1999.

Utah doesn't look prepared to end that streak, having dropped seven of its last nine on the road, where it's 15-24 this season. The Jazz have also lost four of five overall after falling 130-101 at Dallas on Wednesday night.

"It was like they wanted it more, like the game meant more to them. It's disappointing," said point guard Deron Williams, who led Utah with 18 points and 12 assists but went 5-for-14 from the field.

That defeat dropped the Jazz into a tie with the Mavericks for seventh place in the conference with four games remaining on Utah's schedule.

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Old 04-10-2009, 03:43 AM   #2
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Old 04-10-2009, 11:14 AM   #3
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Default Re: Jazz-Spurs Preview

This is really an important game for us. Really is one of the 2 of 4 rough games we have to end the season. Let's not just fall apart and let the Rockets take the division. Go Spurs Go!
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