Two of the hottest teams in the NBA collide Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena, where the Utah Jazz seek their sixth straight win against Denver, which has won 16 of its previous 18 games.
The Jazz went through their morning shoot-around knowing they are tied for eighth place in the Western Conference with the Lakers, who defeated Dallas late Tuesday night.
L.A. went wire-to-wire on its way to a 101-81 win, which probably ended the Mavericks’ playoff hopes but enabled the Lakers to keep pace with Utah.
“I watched it all the way up to the third quarter,” said Jazz center Al Jefferson. “I was hoping, thinking maybe I was jinxing Dallas. I thought maybe if I turned it off they would come back and win. But they didn’t.”
The Jazz will be without back-up center Enes Kanter and guard Kevin Murphy in the critical game against Denver.
Kanter remains sidelined indefinitely because of a dislocated shoulder suffered one week against Phoenix. Murphy is out because is a skin infection.
Denver, which is 50-24 and battling for a top-four seed in the Western Conference playoffs, will likely be without point guard Ty Lawson.
The Nuggets’ top scorer, Lawson is officially listed as day-to-day because of a torn plantar fascia in his foot. But he is not expected to play in Utah, where Denver suffered a 105-103 loss on Nov. 26.
“We know what type of team they are,” said Jazz forward Paul Millsap. “They had a 15-game winning streak going at one point, so we know who they are. We just have to be on top of our [game] and try to make it happen.”