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Utah Jazz Outgun Phoenix Suns 124-115 - Arenas/Crittenton Not Involved

=Ever play NBA Live or 2K on fast and then try to play back at regular speed? That's what it's going to be like for the Jazz when they play Portland tomorrow night after having played the Suns. Not only that, but if you've played on hard mode, the computer will make anything that they throw up at the basket.

Goran Dragic was the computer last night.  He was unconscious in the second quarter.  After the Jazz had built a 17-5 lead on layups and dunks, they went to taking jumpers and went ice cold.  The Suns of course are never out of it with their offense.  They came roaring back late in the first and tied it up at 19.  Then Dragic checked in and took over.

He scored the Suns' next 10 points spanning the first and second quarters.  He was 4-4 from downtown and 5-6 overall.  Add to that 5 free throws and 3 assists and you have the makings of a 19-point quarter for the Dragic.  If there was someone that didn't want the half to end, it was Goran as he nailed back-to-back threes to close out the quarter.

When the carnage was over, the Suns had scored 45 points by going 8-11 from the arc and 16-21 overall.  The Jazz found themselves down by 11, 69-58.  69 damn points.  Unbelievable.

The Jazz didn't have a bad quarter offensively.  They scored 35 points themselves on some pretty good shooting.  If you're shooting 50%+ from the field and have 58 points at the break, you have to feel pretty good about yourself.  Granted, this was against the Suns' D, but you're winning most of those games.

Thankfully for the Jazz, Dragic didn't start the third quarter on the floor.  If I were him, I wouldn't have gone into the locker room at halftime.  I would have stayed on the floor and kept jacking up threes to stay hot.

I really didn't think the Jazz had it in them to come back.  They hadn't shown any sign of being able to stop the Suns.  Even if the Jazz shot lights out, Phoenix was going to have an answer.  Thankfully the nitro for the Suns started to burn out.  Utah "held them to only 27 points in the third quarter while the Jazz had 33.  After scoring 45 points in the second quarter alone, the Suns only had 46 points the rest of the way as they managed only 19 points in the fourth quarter.  That's what Dragic had in the second by himself.

When it ended, the Jazz walked off the court spent.  For best games of the year, this one moves into the top spot for now.  It slightly edges the Gaines game only because the level of excitement  was high for almost the entire game.  The Cavs game had the best 30 seconds this year, but this one kept my adrenaline going for the entire second half.

There's a lot that I'm missing and not writing about because there was so much in this game.  Let's try to sort out all of the individual accolades.

Wesley Matthews

He may be playing CJ Miles right out of a job.  Remember, Matthews is a rookie and getting crunch-time minutes under Sloan.  Not only is he getting minutes, but he's becoming a difference maker in games.  He had two steals late.  The first game with just under 6 minutes and the game tied at 106.  He stole a Steve Nash pass, stumbled a bit, but recovered to get the Jazz back into their set.  AK made two free throws to give the Jazz their first lead since the first quarter.  Then he stole the ball from Dragic later and went to the foul line as a result.  The end of the third and the fourth quarter belonged to Matthews in part as the Jazz went on their run to eliminate the 17-point deficit after he checked in.  On the offensive side, he had 15 of his 21 in that same span including a couple of three pointers.  Can't say enough about this kid.

Andrei Kirlenko

AK will save us all.  We've been talking about the Jazz needing a veteran presence.  Is Andrei quietly assuming that role?  I've said before that he seems to be the only one unphased when things are down or calls aren't going Utah's way.  He doesn't get rattled.  He just puts his head down and keeps playing.  He's been playing like the 1999-2004 AK that we all know he can still be.  He had 25 points last night and he too was instrumental in bringing the team back.

I would love nothing more than to see AK be a silent leader on this team.

Carlos Boozer

Beast man on the boards.  He had 21 & 20 helping to make sure that any shots that the Suns did miss didn't get a second chance at going in.  He was also the zone buster for the Jazz if you can believe that.  When the Suns  went to the zone, that's when the Jazz started struggling on offense.  They went 0 for their first 9 from three-point land.  When the Suns went to the zone again in the third, it was Boozer hitting mid-range Js that kept them honest and kept the Jazz in the game.  With the coaches voting for the All-star game ending today, this game might have an impact for those forward positions. 

Deron Williams

It's nice when Deron has 18 & 11 and it's not even close to being the top story line of the night.

Mehmet Okur

When is Yeliz due?  Honestly.  Someone needs to find out.  She needs to have that baby so that Memo can get out of the funk that he's in.

Other notes

This was the loudest I've seen the ESA in a long time.  It got loud for the Cavs game, but people were out of their seats in the third quarter yelling and screaming.  Welcome back ESA.

So do we need to wait another 5-7 games to determine if the Jazz are a  different team?  Maybe not.  One things I noticed last night that I've never seen happen, is Deron call everyone in for a huddle after the Suns got fouled.  They might be coming together finally and instead of looking for one person to be a leader, they're counting on each other.  They look like they trust each other and that's probably the biggest reason for their success.

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