Preview: Warriors (18-23) at Jazz (21-22)
Date: March 17, 2012 9:00 PM EDT
The Utah Jazz have been playing more consistently at home recently, but for their next game at EnergySolutions Arena, they'll be without their leading scorer.
Al Jefferson will be away Saturday night when the Jazz, seeking their fifth straight home win, face the Golden State Warriors.
Jefferson will also miss Utah's game Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers following the death of his grandmother earlier this week. His absence leaves the Jazz without their leading scorer (19 ppg) and rebounder (9.4 rpg).
Utah (21-22) is in must-win mode, sitting 11th in the Western Conference - 2 1/2 games behind Houston and Denver for the final two playoff spots. The Jazz have won two of three and six of 10 overall, but haven't been able to win more than two in a row since the middle of January.
They won 111-105 in overtime at home over Minnesota on Thursday, when Gordon Hayward's season-high 26 points led six Utah players in double figures. Paul Millsap missed a potential game-winning layup at the end of regulation, but added 16 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high eight steals.
"I don't want to be sitting there next summer, thinking of games like this and saying, 'I wish I would have done this or that.' We're going to put it all on the line," Millsap said.
The Jazz now will try to move above .500 for the first time since they were 15-14 on Feb. 17. They are 2-1 this season when Jefferson has not played.
Golden State (18-23) is in transition after trading leading scorer Monta Ellis earlier this week, but that doesn't mean the Jazz can afford to take it easy Saturday.
"We can't afford to relax against anybody with guys out," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We've got to continue to understand who we are, continue to fight and create a tempo. To take anybody lightly is a mistake."
The Warriors won their first game after trading of Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown to Milwaukee, but have since lost two straight while allowing an average of 112.5 points. They failed to recover from scoring 12 points in the first quarter against the Bucks on Friday, losing 120-98. David Lee scored 22 points and Klay Thompson added 19 in the defeat.
The Bucks never trailed in the game, led by as many as 30 points and outrebounded the Warriors 54-35, grabbing 16 offensive boards.
"We took all the punches and threw none. For the first time in a while we didn't make the team that we played against feel us. They did whatever they wanted to do. It was an embarrassing effort,' Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "They destroyed us. They treated us like we were their little brothers. Any way you look to define being thoroughly outplayed and physically beaten up, we made a case for it.'
The Warriors and Jazz have split two meetings so far this season, both at Golden State.