No team has more wins at home than the Utah Jazz since the start
of the 2006-07 season, and after a mediocre start in Salt Lake
City, they’ve won the past five games on their home floor.
The Orlando Magic hardly seem intimidated by any road venue
The Magic look for a seventh consecutive win overall and a ninth
consecutive road victory Thursday night in Utah, where the Jazz
return home looking to put an ugly second-half collapse behind
Orlando (17-4) went 27-14 on the road last season, finishing in
a three-way tie for the league’s second-best record away from home.
The Magic kept playing well on the road in the playoffs, knocking
off Boston and Cleveland despite not having home-court advantage in
either the Eastern Conference semifinals or finals.
They seem to have taken that blueprint for road success to
another level this season. Orlando split its first four road games
but has won eight in a row after Dwight Howard’s 25 points, 11
rebounds and seven blocks led the way to a 97-86 victory over the
Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
A win over the Jazz (12-9) would give the Magic their best
22-game start in franchise history. Orlando started 17-4 in both
1994-95 and ’95-96 before dropping its next game.
“I’m not satisfied, but I think we’re getting better,” said
Howard, who’s averaged 22.0 points, 13.6 rebounds and 3.2 blocks
during the Magic’s six-game winning streak. “That’s what we want,
to stay humble and not get complacent with who we are.”
Orlando has never won nine straight road games in a single
season, but did win the past two away from home in ’06-07 followed
by its first seven the following season.
Aside from Howard’s interior dominance, Vince Carter has been
the Magic’s go-to perimeter scorer on the road. Carter was held to
13 points against the Clippers, but averaged 24.3 points in the
team’s six previous road games.
“We’ve found a way to win, whether they’re blowouts or close
games,” Carter said. “In second halves, we’ve done a good job
buckling down and sticking to the game plan.”
Carter hasn’t visited EnergySolutions Arena with Orlando, but
he’s had success in Salt Lake City – where Utah has won 110 games
since the start of the 2006-07 season – in the past. The eight-time
All-Star has scored at least 30 points in four of his eight career
games in Utah.
The Magic, meanwhile, swept the Jazz last season, including a
103-94 road victory Dec. 13 as Howard sat out with a sore left
knee. Rashard Lewis had 27 in that win, while Howard had 28 points
and 20 rebounds in a 105-87 win in Orlando on March 15.
The Jazz didn’t have Carlos Boozer during their home loss to
Orlando, but Boozer – who missed 45 games last season due to
various injuries – has returned to his All-Star form lately,
averaging 26.7 points in seven games before facing the Lakers on
Boozer had eight first-half points as Utah jumped out to a 52-48
lead, but the Jazz disappeared from there. They were held to 19
points in the third and six in the fourth as Los Angeles turned a
halftime deficit into a 101-77 rout.
“They came out and just destroyed us,” coach Jerry Sloan said.
“… We have to learn to stay within what we are trying to do. You
can’t go out and play street basketball against this team. They
will annihilate you.”
Utah fell to 1-8 when it allows 100 points.
Jazz center Mehmet Okur averaged 7.5 points and shot 2 of 20 in
Utah’s two losses to Orlando last season.