Jazz open home stand with World Champion Heat

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SALT LAKE CITY - Al Jefferson is glad to be home for a while but isn't too thrilled with the weather.

It's cold," Al said after Monday morning's shoot around. "It ain't never been this cold since I've been here. "

While the temperatures outside are the coldest they have been in 20 years the Jazz welcome the world champion Miami Heat to Utah. It begins a stretch of 15 of the next 20 games at home and six of their next seven. What better way to start a home stand than with a win against the defending champions.

"It would be a great victory for us if we can get this win," says Paul Millsap. "Especially against a team like this. Who knows what a win like this can do for us."

We've been a physical team. This is a physical culture. We've been like that for years from the ground up. We're a hard working team.

–Paul Millsap

LeBron James always seems to have a big game when he comes to Utah. He has played in Energy Solutions Arena nine times in his career and has averaged 33 points in those games. That includes a 51- point game in 2006 that drew a standing ovation from many fans that witnessed his performance.

"These fans are amazing," LeBron says about Jazz fans. "They bring a lot of energy to the game and I thrive off of that. I thrive in other people's buildings. I love the adversity you are able to go through."

Dwyane Wade has also had some memorable performances in Utah and agrees with LeBron that the atmosphere created by Jazz fans helps bring out the best in them.

"They are very competitive here and they bring the best out of other teams," he says about the Jazz. "We enjoy it every time we come here. It's a tough place to play. It's a tough place to breathe first of all and once you get over that you've gotta play the team. It's always tough but it's always enjoyable. This is one place that if you walk out of here with a win you feel very good about yourself."

Wade also referenced the physical play of the Jazz which seems to be a recurring theme lately.

"They really junk it up here at home," he says about the Jazz. "They are a very physical team."

Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle and Detroit head coach Lawrence Frank have both made comments recently about the physical play of the Utah Jazz.

Carlisle called the Jazz style of play "thuggish" after losing to the Jazz on January 7th.

Frank said after a loss to the Jazz on Saturday, "With Utah, if you're not the instigator, you're gonna have a hard time. That's their culture."

Paul Millsap takes that as a compliment.

"We are a physical team," Paul says. "We've been a physical team. This is a physical culture. We've been like that for years from the ground up. We're a hard working team."

The Jazz will get some added help tonight as starting small forward Marvin Williams will return after missing last week's three game road trip with a knee injury. He will have the challenge of defending LeBron James at times during the game.

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Jeremiah Jensen


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