Jazz look to continue winning ways vs. Raptors

Field Level Media

March 09, 2020 at 8:44 am.

The Utah Jazz will look to extend their five-game winning streak when they return home to face the Toronto Raptors on Monday night in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz completed an undefeated four-game road trip on Saturday with a 111-105 victory over the Detroit Pistons after beating the Boston Celtics on Friday.

The Raptors will complete a back-to-back set of games after defeating the host Sacramento Kings 118-113 Sunday night in a game that was tied with 34 seconds remaining.

The Jazz will be striving for consistency. Their current winning streak was preceded by a four-game losing streak, which has become a pattern.

It will be a matter of continuing to play solid defense.

“We’re picking up the ball a little bit earlier, we’re being a little bit more aggressive on screens, and I think everybody is just kind of feeding off of each other’s energy,” Jazz point guard Mike Conley told reporters of the difference in Utah’s recent play. “When we’re playing that hard and that aggressive while communicating, we can beat some really good teams and have some good stretches of basketball. I think we’re learning that, that we can be that good. We’ve just got to continue to do it.”

Conley scored 25 points against the Celtics on Friday and has overcome a slow start that included a hamstring injury in his first season with the Jazz after he was acquired in an offseason trade with the Memphis Grizzlies.

‘The guy’s been banged up, and he’s with a new team,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “He’s got two little kids and he just moved to Salt Lake, he’s got a new number, he’s got a new jersey, he’s got a new time zone, he’s got a new altitude. Just let him play. That’s how I feel.”

Conley had 12 points on Saturday against the Pistons while Rudy Gobert had 10 points and 12 rebounds for his 45th double-double of the season.

The Raptors are 3-1 so far on their five-game road trip against Western Conference teams. The only loss came against the Denver Nuggets to open the trip last Sunday.

They had a struggle against the Kings before Pascal Siakam took charge of the game late, scoring eight straight points down the stretch to finish with 23 for the game.

The Raptors continue to get outstanding play from guard Norman Powell, who had 31 points Sunday night. Point guard Kyle Lowry added 30 points.

“We kind of feel (Powell) going and we start running some stuff where he can turn hard and get into the paint,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said recently. “When he gets in that mode, the ball seems to get to him and he’s got a variety of stuff going. He’ll get to the hole, hit a 3, hit a pull-up. He’ll get a lot, make a lot of good decisions.”

The Raptors are close to having a full healthy roster. Center Marc Gasol returned Sunday after missing 15 games with a hamstring injury. He scored three points with two rebounds and two assists in nearly 16 minutes off the bench.

Guard Fred VanVleet missed his fifth straight game with a sore shoulder and probably will not return until next Saturday at home against the Detroit Pistons — the Raptors’ next game after Monday.

The Raptors defeated the Jazz 130-110 on Dec. 1 at Toronto after leading 77-37 at halftime.