Jazz Open New Year With Struggling Eastern Conference Opponents

Dec 29, 2019, 5:29 PM

Donovan Mitchell - Orlando Magic...

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz drives past Jonathan Isaac #1 and Evan Fournier #10 of the Orlando Magic during a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on December 17, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz end 2019 and begin 2020 with three Eastern Conference foes that own records below .500.

Utah hosts the Detroit Pistons before heading on the road to take on the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic.

Winners of eight of their last ten games, the Jazz are beginning to click on offense and defense. Utah’s rebounded after the team opened the month of December with three consecutive losses, including routs by the Raptors and Lakers.

Utah won all of the games in that stretch except for one without point guard Mike Conley. Conley’s missed 10 of the Jazz’s last 11 games with a hamstring injury. After missing five games in early December with hamstring tightness, Conley was reinjured in Utah’s 109-102 win over the Orlando Magic on December 17. He’s missed each of the Jazz’s games since then.

During Utah’s successful run, guard Donovan Mitchell has taken his game to another level. Mitchell’s scored 30 points or more in five of Utah’s last eight contests. On the season, the Jazz star is averaging 25.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. Mitchell currently ranks 11th in scoring in the NBA.

The Jazz have taken advantage of a soft stretch in their schedule and reeled off five wins in a row from December 11-21. Utah will host the Pistons coming off of back-to-back wins against Western Conference rivals Portland Trailblazers and Los Angeles Clippers.

Before the wins over the Blazers and Clippers, the Jazz made a series of transactions to buoy its bench. Utah traded guard Dante Exum to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for guard Jordan Clarkson. After the trade, Utah waived forward Jeff Green and signed Rayjon Tucker out of the G-League.

Clarkson’s scored 28 total points to lead Utah’s bench in the back-to-back wins over the Blazers and Clips.

12/30 vs. Detroit Pistons

The Jazz look to win their third consecutive game when they host the Detroit Pistons. It’ll be the first meeting between the two teams this season.

Detroit is led by the trio of Andre Drummond, Derrick Rose, and Blake Griffin.

Drummond’s averaged 18 points and 16 rebounds per game this season. Rose leads the Pistons in assists per game with 5.9. The former MVP is second on Detroit in scoring with an average of 16.7 points per contest. Griffin has missed time this season due to injury. When’s he’s been in Detroit’s lineup, he’s averaged 15.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists.

The Jazz won the 2018-19 season series with the Pistons.

Utah defeated the Detroit 110-105 on January 5 and 100-94 on January 14.

Team Records (as of December 29):

Utah: 20-12 (12-3 Home) – 2nd in Northwest Division

Detroit: 12-21 (4-11 Away) – 4th in Central Division

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena (18,306) in Salt Lake City, Utah

When: Monday, December 30 at 7 p.m. (MDT)

TV: NBA League Pass and AT&T SportsNet

Radio: 97.5 FM

Tickets: From $22

1/2 @ Chicago Bulls

Utah’s first game of 2020 is on the road against the Chicago Bulls. It’s the first matchup between the Bulls and Jazz on the 2019-20 schedule.

Chicago is led by point guard Zach LaVine who has averaged 23.5 points per contest this season. The Bulls’ next leading scorer is forward Lauri Markkanen with 15.0 points.

The Jazz swept last season’s series against the Bulls. Utah defeated Chicago 110-102 on January 12 and 114-83 on March 23.

Team Records (as of December 29):

Utah: 20-12 (8-9 Away) – 2nd in Northwest Division

Chicago: 13-20 (7-10 Home) –  3rd in Central Division

Where: United Center (20,917) in Chicago, Illinois

When: Thursday, January 2 at 6 p.m. (MDT)

TV: NBA League Pass and AT&T SportsNet

Radio: 97.5 FM

Tickets: From $28

1/4 @ Orlando Magic

The Jazz look to take the season series against the Magic on January 4. Utah took down Orlando in the two’s first meeting of the season. The Jazz defeated the Magic at home 109-102 on December 17.

In the December 17 win, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic combined for 60 points on 24-50 shooting including 8-18 from three-point range.

Jazz guard Mike Conley returned to the starting lineup after missing five games with hamstring tightness. Against the Magic, Conley posted 7 points on 2-8 field goals, 6 assists, and a steal. He left the game after only 19 minutes on the court and hasn’t played for the Jazz since.

The Magic are led by Evan Fournier and all-star Nikola Vucevic. Fournier’s averaged 19.4 points this season while Vucevic’s posted 17.7 points and 10.9 rebounds.

Team Records (as of December 29):

Utah: 20-12 (8-9 Away) – 2nd in Northwest Division

Orlando: 14-18 (10-6 Home) –  2nd in Southeast Division

Where: Amway Center (18,500) in Orlando, Florida

When: Saturday, January 4 at 5 p.m. (MDT)

TV: NBA League Pass and AT&T SportsNet

Radio: 97.5 FM

Tickets: From $20

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Jazz Open New Year With Struggling Eastern Conference Opponents