It’s debatable just how much home-court advantage means in the NBA these days.
With few fans at the arenas that allows them, the conventional wisdom is that playing at home isn’t what it used to be.
The Jazz have a 2½-game lead over the Phoenix Suns for the NBA’s best record with a little over a month to go before the end of the regular season. Finishing the season first would give the Jazz home-court advantage throughout the postseason, and that could mean something for a team trying to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since losing to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1998.
The Jazz have beaten the Lakers, Clippers, Nets and 76ers at home.
“It’s a special feeling honestly, to be able to know coming into the building like we have here at Vivint that we have an advantage,” Mike Conley said about the historic stretch. “We always feel like that. Even when the stands are not completely full, we feel like we still have some of the best fans in the world.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 37 points to lead Utah to its 23rd straight victory at home, which came after the Jazz lost road games earlier this week at Dallas and Phoenix. They are 16-11 on the road.
“This was a must-win,” Mitchell said. “We kind of put our focus on that, not letting three go to teams who are playoff bound.”
During the 1996-97 season, when the Jazz went to the Finals for the first time, they were 38-3 at home and 26-15 on the road. The next year, they went 36-5 at home and 26-15 on the road — that was when the other 20-game home winning streak began and extended to the 1998-99 season.
Miami wins but loses Victor Oladipo
The Miami Heat completed a sweep of their season series with the Lakers with a 110-104 win on Thursday. But it may have come with a high price. Victor Oladipo, who was acquired in a trade-deadline deal with the Rockets, limped to the locker room midway through the fourth quarter after a poster dunk over Andre Drummond.
The prospect of losing Oladipo comes at a precarious time for the Heat, which had been on an upswing of late with wins in five of its past six games. And Miami is facing a tough road ahead. They begin a four-game Western road swing with stops in Portland, Phoenix, Denver and Minnesota.
Kristaps Porzingis comes alive in fourth quarter
Kristaps Porzingis scored eight straight points in the fourth quarter as part of a 26-point, 17-rebound effort that helped the Mavericks beat the Eastern Conference-contending Bucks 116-101 on Thursday.
Porzingis scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, including consecutive 3-pointers right after returning to the game. That was much different than the previous night.
After the Mavericks suffered an embarrassing loss to the rebuilding Houston Rockets on Wednesday, a lot of the postgame chatter surrounded Porzingis scoring 23 points on 10-for-19 shooting but not getting any shots in the final quarter.
He did not hide his displeasure. When asked why he wasn’t involved late, Porzingis said, “Good question. It’s just the plays we were running. It happened before also.”
Game of the night: Spurs at Nuggets
The two teams meet in the second game of a two-game series in Denver. The Nuggets have won seven in a row, including Wednesday’s 106-96 win over the Spurs. The Nuggets have yet to lose with their new starting lineup of Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic. “At this point of the season we’re good,” Nikola Jokic said. “At the beginning of the season we were trying to find ourselves but right now we’re playing really well.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jazz hoping their home court is an advantage over Lakers, Nuggets