Utah Jazz hope to continue success against Eastern Conference in key stretch
Los Angeles • Block out that ugly loss to the Chicago Bulls a couple of weeks back, and that thing in Philadelphia in November. When it comes to the Jazz's success this season, much of the credit can go to the way they've played against the Eastern Conference.
Entering Saturday, the Jazz were 31-24 seven games above .500. They were even (18-18) against the West, and plus-seven against the East.
"Obviously, we played better when we played against them than we did against the West teams," DeMarre Carroll said.
Good thing, too. Because the Jazz play their next eight games against Eastern Conference opponents. Of the team's 26 remaining games, starting Monday against the Boston Celtics, 11 are against the East.
Is there any reason for success against the East? Not to coach Tyrone Corbin.
"These are tough opponents for us," Corbin said. "We can't afford to look at anybody's record and think we have a win. We've got to go and compete every night to be effective."
However, Carroll said the Jazz do well against the Eastern Conference because they play each opponent only twice a year, giving each time fewer opportunities to scout and learn about the Jazz.
"They [Western Conference teams] scout us better," Carroll said. "They know every player."
He added: "Hopefully we can maximize these next eight games, because they're going to be really big coming down to playoff time."
Derrick Favors liked "Django Unchained," the bloody Quentin Tarantino slavery satire. So did Alec Burks.
But, if Gordon Hayward, the Jazz's resident cinephile, had a vote to help determine Best Picture at Sunday night's Academy Awards, he'd be picking a dark horse.
"I like 'Life of Pi,' " the Jazz guard said, "but I'm kind of biased, because I liked the book. I read it growing up."
Hayward said he had seen at least five of the Best Picture-nominated films. The Oscars will be held Sunday evening at the Dolby Theatre, fewer than eight miles from Staples Center, where the Jazz and Clippers played Saturday.
Jazz guard Mo Williams said he hopes to resume full-contact practices this week. The veteran point guard had two pins removed from his right thumb on Feb. 13 following early January surgery to repair torn ligaments suffered Dec. 22 at Miami.
Williams said he has full use of the thumb and is participating in all drills with it. However, he is taking it slow before risking a damaging hit.