Preview: Heat try to send Jazz to fourth straight loss

TV: FOX Sports Sun

TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A three-game losing streak has the Utah Jazz searching for answers on offense and defense. It could signal the beginning of an even bigger downward slide if Utah cannot get things turned around when the Jazz host the Miami Heat on Friday night.

Over that three-game stretch, the Jazz (5-6) have been plagued by poor shot selection, turnovers and defensive breakdowns. Utah has shot 38.6 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from beyond the 3-point line in those losses. Defensively, the Jazz have allowed opponents to score 116.7 points on 51.5 percent shooting during their losing streak.

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“We know where we want to go is the main thing,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said following practice on Thursday. “We got to keep trying to get there. That involves adjustments and spacing at times. Other times it involves guys continuing to improve in executing with what we’re doing.”

Utah’s 104-97 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday offered a perfect snapshot of the issues plaguing the team on both ends of the court.

The Jazz shot 30.3 percent from the field against the Sixers and made only nine 3-pointers on 39 attempts. They trailed by double digits most of the second half until getting within a basket in the final seconds.

Defensively, Utah forced 22 turnovers and limited Philadelphia to only eight offensive rebounds. But the Sixers shot 44.4 percent from the perimeter and finished with a 56-45 edge on the glass.

Improved offense is the key to making defensive efforts have a greater impact.

“It’s my job to try to be a little more active and try to find the right window, but when we get good shots, yeah, I’m in a better position for rebounds,” center Rudy Gobert said. “When we get bad shots, it’s hard to rebound and it’s also harder to come back in transition defense. So it also helps our defense.”

Miami (5-6) has endured its own set of momentum swings in November. The Heat bounced back from a tough loss to Golden State with a 126-115 victory over Phoenix on Wednesday night.

Seven of the eight players who took part scored in double figures for Miami against the Suns. One of the best performances came from center Hassan Whiteside, who finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. It was a bounce-back outing for Whiteside, who had been benched early in the second half against the Warriors after missing eight of nine shots from the field.

The Heat are 3-2 in November and are allowing 99.8 points per game in that stretch.

“We bounced back well,” Whiteside said. “We (are) trending in the right direction. I think we started the road trip 23rd (in the NBA) in defense and now we’re just slowly climbing up. The last five games, we’ve been a top-five defense and that’s what we want to get back to and I want to be the driving force for that.”

Goran Dragic has stepped his game up a bit to help Miami have success on its current road trip. The veteran point guard is averaging 20.8 points, 5.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds over the last four games. Dragic is shooting 45.9 percent from the floor and 79.2 percent from the line in that stretch.

Dragic could get a little extra help in the backcourt against the Jazz. Tyler Johnson sat out against the Suns because of concussion protocol, but he has been upgraded to probable for Friday night.

Utah and Miami split the season series a year ago. The Heat prevailed in their last trip to Salt Lake City, edging the Jazz 111-110 on December 1, 2016, behind 27 points from Dragic.