For the first time in what has felt like forever, the Utah Jazz had their full point guard rotation again. Whether it helped or not is up to interpretation, but the Jazz (38-29) got the win 114-97 over the Phoenix Suns (16-53) nonetheless.
Rudy Gobert nearly notched his third career 20/20 game with 18 points and 20 rebounds. His contribution, along with the 26 points, five rebounds and two assists from Donovan Mitchell, put the Jazz over the top on the road despite a shaky start.
Utah finished the first quarter down two points the lottery-bound Suns. The Jazz shot a mere 40.9 percent overall. More importantly, Phoenix shot 4 of 6 from 3-point land and 45.5 percent overall in the first with Devin Booker scoring 10 of his 27 points in the opening quarter.
In the second, Utah found its offensive rhythm. The team shot 11 of 22 in that quarter alone and outscored the Suns 28-16. That combined with a 36-22 advantage in the fourth helped the Jazz overcome less-than-stellar performances in the first and third (Phoenix outscored Utah 32-25 in the third).
Phoenix, which came into the game averaging 115.8 points in their last eight games (and had a 5-3 record to boot) were held to their lowest point total since Feb. 6 — the last time they played the Jazz (they scored just 88 points than night).
“We knew we were going to have to play great defense and we did,” Gobert said.
Rebounding helped quite a bit in limiting what has been recently, a potent Suns offense behind a surging Devin Booker (26.1 point per game since Feb. 12). In their last eight, Phoenix were grabbing 9.6 offensive boards per outing, but had just five. Utah out-rebounded Suns 52-35.
“We want to get stops, and to complete a stop you’ve got to bet rebounds,” Gobert said.
Derrick Favors also played a key role in rebounding and on offense. He had seven boards with 18 points and tied a career-high with seven assists.
Wednesday night was the first time since Jan. 5, a game against Detroit, that all of Utah’s point guards were in the rotation. None of Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum or Raul Neto — all of whom played in the game — stood out statistically. The trio combined to shoot 1 for 13 from the field with Exum and Neto putting goose eggs on the scoreboard.
That being said, the team is likely glad to have a point guard rotation again instead of relying on Mitchell to carry the play-making duties by himself.
“It’s good to have point guards to play basketball,” Gobert said. “It’s great to have them back and hopefully we can have them back until the end.”
The win ended a short two-game losing streak for the Jazz. It was just the second losing skid the team has been on since the start of the calendar year.