Jazz, Blazers commence home-and-home series

The Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers begin a home-and- home series Friday night when the two sides meet up in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz are playing solid basketball with seven wins in their last nine games. Utah's most recent victory came on Wednesday night at home against the New Orleans Hornets.

Paul Millsap led the way for the Jazz with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Al Jefferson scored 22 and Derrick Favors (15), Marvin Williams (11) and Randy Foye (14) all scored in double digits.

It was a gutty performance for the Jazz, who came off the franchise's worst home loss in history on Monday, a 125-80 drubbing at the hands of the Houston Rockets.

"It's tough to let a game like that go," Millsap said of Monday's loss. "We let it go and came out tonight (and) it seemed like it was getting ready to go that way again, but we got it going and won the game."

Gordon Hayward missed another game with a sprained right shoulder.

After Friday's game, the sides head to Portland Saturday night.

The Blazers are also playing well with three wins in their last four games. All three of those victories came at home and Portland ended a four-game home losing streak.

Portland last played on Tuesday in a 106-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. The win was not without controversy as All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge drained his first 3-pointer of the season to tie the game. O.J. Mayo was called for an offensive foul and Aldridge took the inbounds pass and made a fadeaway jumper as the buzzer rang to give the Blazers the victory.

"This is what you live for," said Aldridge.

The controversy stemmed from the offensive call on Mayo. The NBA admitted the charge call was incorrect, but it still went down in the win column for the Blazers.

Aldridge finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds, his 11th double-double of January. J.J. Hickson was almost as brilliant with 26 points and 15 boards. All five starters scored in double figures, as is the case with Portland, but the bench only managed 14 points.

Just past the halfway point in the season, this game is an important one. The Jazz are currently the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoff picture and Portland is a half-game outside the Rockets, who are the eighth seed.

The Jazz, who are 16-5 at home this season, swept all four games with Portland last season, but the Blazers captured three of four the previous season.