The fans in Portland have taken to chanting "MVP! MVP!" whenever LaMarcus Aldridge steps up to the free throw line. It's been that kind of year so far for the Trail Blazers and Aldridge, the All-Star forward who averages better than 23 points and 10 rebounds a night.
"He's just a great player," Jazz forward Derrick Favors said. "He's a tough guy to guard because he's a good face up shooter. He's a good offensive player. It's fun going against him."
But with the Trail Blazers in town, the question remains whether will Favors be able to play Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
After starting the team's first 21 games, Favors missed Saturday night's overtime loss to the Kings with a sore lower back.
"It was tough," he said. "I wanted to be out there with my teammates. Hopefully I could have made a difference out there, but I had to sit back there in the training room. It was tough."
Favors participated in shootaround Monday and is a game-time decision tonight.
"Just got to shed what the trainers and stuff say if I go out there and warm up real good and just see how it feel," he said.
Favors said the back injury is not the same issue he dealt with over the summer and was vague when asked how the injury happened.
"It just kind of tightened up a little bit," he said.
The Jazz would certainly miss Favors' defense against Aldridge, especially with Marvin Williams out again with a sore heel.
Tipoff • 7 p.m. MT.
TV • ROOT Sports
Radio • 97.5 FM, 960 AM, 1280 AM
Utah's probable starters:
PG — Trey Burke, 12.7 ppg, 4.1 apg
SG — Gordon Hayward, 16.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg
SF — Richard Jefferson, 9.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg
PF — Jeremy Evans, 8.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg
C — Enes Kanter, 12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg
Portland's probable starters:
PG — Damian Lillard, 20.8 ppg, 5.7 apg
SG — Wesley Matthews, 16.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg
SF — Nicolas Batum, 13.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg
PF — LaMarcus Aldridge, 23.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg
C — Robin Lopez, 8.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg
On the Jazz: Let a late fourth-quarter lead slip away in an eventual overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. … With Portland point guard Damian Lillard hitting shots early in the team's meeting Friday, Utah's Trey Burke said he began to press and found himself taking shots he shouldn't have taken. It's another lesson the rookie says he's learned in his first year in the league.
On the Blazers: Still atop the standings in the West, despite losing to the Mavericks on Saturday. … Lillard averages better than 20 points and five assists a night. … Former Jazz point guard Mo Williams leads the team's bench in scoring at 8.9 points a game.
The spread: Portland favored by 7 points, according to Bovada.lv.
HOT: Among those who have played 10 games or more this year, former Jazz guard Wesley Matthews ranks seventh in effective field goal percentage (65.2). Per NBA.com, he's 1.4 points a game on drives, .8 on close shots, 7 on catch-and-shoot opportunities and 3.3 on pull-ups.
NOT: Andris Biedrins' free throw troubles are well known. Against the Kings, his former coach, Mike Malone, exploited them, calling for intentional fouls on Biedrins to close out the first half. The Jazz center hit just one of his six attempts from the line.
— Aaron Falk
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