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Surging Jazz look to keep streak going vs. Spurs

Sports Xchange - Monday 12th February, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY -- Winning is becoming a habit for the Utah Jazz and their current winning streak has them creeping back into the playoff picture.

The Jazz have a chance to push their record over .500 for the first time since early December when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. Utah pushed its current winning streak to nine with a 115-96 win over Portland on Sunday night.

Right now, the Jazz (28-28) trail New Orleans by 1 1/2 games for eighth place in the Western Conference. Utah is thinking it has a genuine shot to keep climbing the ladder.

"We can go pretty far," forward/center Derrick Favors said. "Right now, I think we're in the playoff hunt, so everybody's focused."

Utah has kept the winning streak going by dominating around the basket. In their last two games combined, the Jazz have outscored their opponents 102-60 in the paint. They have also owned the glass. Utah has enjoyed a cumulative 107-70 advantage on rebounds over the last two games.

Joe Ingles has played a huge role in powering the offense as well. Ingles is averaging 23.5 points and is shooting 63.0 percent from the field in his last two contests.

Rallying for an overtime win against Detroit on Jan. 24 marked a turning point for the Jazz in how they are approaching each game.

"We were fortunate to win that game, but I think our guys gained some confidence in general," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "The determination came before the confidence. They have pride, collective pride."

Stopping Utah's winning streak will be a tall task for the Spurs. Few NBA teams have been attacked by the injury bug as viciously as San Antonio this season.

The Spurs (35-22) will face Utah without several key players in the lineup. All-Star forward and leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge will be out because of a sore right knee. Aldridge is averaging 22.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in 54 games this season.

He joins Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay on the sidelines. Leonard has appeared in just nine games this year while struggling with a quadriceps injury. Gay hasn't played since late December because of a heel injury.

Dejounte Murray (sprained right ankle) and Tony Parker (back tightness) have been upgraded to questionable. Both point guards sat out of Saturday night's 122-105 loss to Golden State. Parker has already missed 26 games because of various injuries this season.

Such injury-related attrition has made it tough for the Spurs to seriously challenge the Warriors atop the Western Conference as they've done in past seasons.

"We try to play the right way," Ginobili told the San Antonio Express-News on Saturday. "Sometimes we're just lacking a bit of talent."

Utah has won both meetings with San Antonio this season. The Jazz earned their most recent win over the Spurs 120-111 on Feb. 3 behind a season-high 34 points on 11-of-14 shooting from Ricky Rubio.

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