The well-rested Utah Jazz have to be feeling an abundance of confidence after disposing of the defending champion Miami Heat five days ago and look to stay hot Saturday night versus the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Jazz began a stretch of 10 of 12 games in Salt Lake City with Monday's 104-97 victory over LeBron James and the Heat. Al Jefferson tallied 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Gordon Hayward scored 22 points off the bench for the Jazz, who have won six of eight games and improved to 12-4 as the host.
Hayward buried a big shot with 40.4 seconds left to give Utah a 100-93 lead and hold off a furious Miami rally.
"We needed to make one," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said of Hayward's shot. "It gave us a little sigh of relief with the amount of time on the clock."
Utah moved to 40-7 at home against the Eastern Conference since February of 2009 and has won seven straight at home against teams from the East.
The Jazz, winners of three in a row in Salt Lake City, will close out a three- game homestand versus Washington on Wednesday, then are slated to visit the Los Angeles Lakers next Friday. After that, Utah will play four straight and seven of eight in front of the home crowd.
All-Star game reserves will be announced next week and Jefferson appears to be a strong candidate to represent the Jazz.
Cleveland hopes to close out a five-game western junket in winning fashion and ended a three-game slide with a 93-88 victory at Portland Wednesday night. Kyrie Irving was in a groove and finished with 31 points, while Tristan Thompson tallied a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
"I'm just taking what the defense gives me," said Irving, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and six in the final two minutes. "It's more of a feel from game to game, and tonight my shots were going in the first quarter."
Irving is a potential All-Star candidate and is averaging 25.0 ppg in his last eight contests.
The Cavs scored 24 points off t19 Portland turnovers and won for only the third time in their last 11 tries. Through the first four games of the road trip, Cleveland is forcing 19.0 turnovers per game and scoring an average of 21.5 points off of the miscues.
Cleveland is just 6-19 away from Quicken Loans Arena -- 2-8 on the road against the West -- and will return to the Forest City for back-to-back games versus Boston and Milwaukee.
Saturday's matchup between the Cavs and Jazz is the first of two this season. Utah will visit Cleveland on March 6 and won both meetings last season. The Jazz have still won five of the last six in this series.
The Cavs have dropped three straight and 18 of 22 games in Salt Lake City.