Getting Deron Williams back should help the Utah Jazz, who are trying to break out of an early-season slump. Facing the Toronto Raptors provides them with a good chance to start the turnaround.
Williams expects to return to the lineup as the Jazz go for their ninth straight win over the Raptors on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.
Utah (4-6) returns home after splitting a four-game road trip. Williams missed the final two games to be with his family while his daughter went through medical tests. Without their star point guard, the Jazz beat Philadelphia 112-90 but lost 107-103 to Cleveland on Saturday.
Williams, who averaged 20.4 points and 9.9 assists in the first eight games of the season, returned to practice Monday.
"It's tough when you're home sitting and watching when you should be there," Williams said. "It's just a different feeling."
Williams' return isn't the only reason for optimism in Salt Lake City. The Jazz play seven of their next eight at home, where they are 2-2 this season. Utah was one of the NBA's best teams at home in 2008-09, going 33-8, and it will look to start getting this season back on track during this key early stretch.
The team will be looking to feed off the home crowd, especially with the Jazz hurting because of injuries. On Saturday, Utah dressed only nine players for a second consecutive game.
"Nobody cares what we've done," coach Jerry Sloan said. "We've got to go home and get ready to play again and not worry about who's here and all that stuff you can't talk about. I'll tell you what you can talk about, playing and winning basketball games."
Despite being short-handed, Sloan's team played well against the Cavaliers. Carlos Boozer scored 25 points and rookie Eric Maynor had a season-high 24 points in his second start in Williams' place. The Jazz, though, couldn't come up with a big shot at the end. Andrei Kirilenko tried a hurried 3-pointer that missed badly after fumbling the inbounds pass.
Having Williams back in the lineup certainly helps Utah's chances of extending its eight-game winning streak against Toronto. Williams has averaged 20.5 points in the last four victories.
The Raptors (5-6) will try to avoid a third consecutive loss Wednesday. After falling by one point to Phoenix on Sunday, they were blown out 130-112 at Denver on Tuesday, giving up at least 125 points for the fourth time this season.
Chris Bosh had 13 points and 14 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double while five other players scored in double figures. The Nuggets, though, went on a 16-4 run to start the fourth quarter, building a 20-point lead. They shot 61.5 percent and outscored the Raptors 68-36 in the paint.
"We had no answer for them inside," coach Jay Triano said. "They posted us up with 3s, and once you try to help on Carmelo (Anthony), when he's making shots, you try to help, he picks you apart by hitting bigs diving to the basket. That second half got away from us."
Toronto was missing Hedo Turkoglu, who sat out with a sore left hip. Antoine Wright, who is dealing with a sore left ankle, started in his place and finished with five points in 17 minutes. It's not certain if Turkoglu will play Wednesday.
Toronto's last win over Utah was a 98-86 victory in 2004. The Raptors have lost the last four in Salt Lake City by an average of 15.5 points.