NBA: Utah at New Orleans

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NBA: Utah at New Orleans


It seems as if every night presents an important game in the tight Western Conference playoff race. Friday is no different, with Utah visiting New Orleans. Follow the Live Odds & Betting Trends page all day for updated information.

The New Orleans Hornets are living proof the NBA is about matchups. New Orleans ended a three game losing skid at home against Phoenix, beating Steve Nash and his new companion Shaquille O'Neal, for a fourth straight time, completing the sweep of the Suns. Now it's on to face Utah, who has pounded them by 28, 22 points respectively this season and has whipped the Hornets four straight.

New Orleans is 10-1 ATS revenging a loss where opponent scored 100 or more points this season and coach Byron Scott wants his squad ready to do battle. "We're just going to watch the tape of the last two games to show them how physical a basketball team Utah is, even though they should have understood that after the first meeting," Scott said. "Hopefully we'll have a better idea of how to play them the third time. We have to understand that if they are going to play physical, we have to play physical as well."

Coach Scott will need a continuation of several players who bounced back from a few rotten games. Morris Peterson, Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler all played back to season long standards against Phoenix and need to deliver if the Hornets are to sting Utah. New Orleans is 18-13-1 ATS off a cover.

Utah is in first place in the Northwest Division and trails the team that replaced them in the Crescent City by three games in the loss column. Among the reasons for there success against the Hornets is the play of point guard Deron Williams, who has controlled and occasionally dominated his counterpart Chris Paul. These two will forever be linked by the 2005 draft. Paul is a dynamic player who brings scoring and playmaking ability to New Orleans and has gone to the All-Star game the last two seasons. While Williams has to contend with a number of exceptional guards in the West and has not been invited to the affair, his value and stock rise month by month in Salt Lake City. Though the two are considered friends off the court, Williams has used what he feels is a lack of respect to negate Paul when they have matched up.

The Jazz have hit a few bad notes of late, losing at the crummy Clippers and the terrible Timberwolves, before motoring past Detroit two nights ago. This is how Utah has played all season. Against teams with winning records, they are 17-9 SU and ATS. When playing teams below .500, the Jazz is jumbled, with 19-12 mark and 13-18 against the spread record. "That is something that we need to realize," Boozer said, "that we can be one of the best in the league, but we have to be one of the best in the league on a night to night basis." will have Utah as a miniscule road underdog, based on how they have played the Hornets. The Jazz are 12-3 ATS when playing against a good team (Win percentage 60% to 70%) in the second half of the year over the last two seasons. New Orleans enters this encounter with 12-2 ATS record after two straight games committing 11 or less turnovers this season.

This Western Conference conflict will be on ESPN starting at 8 Eastern.

StatFox Take New Orleans by 2

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