The Utah Jazz are leaving the desert with a win against the west leading Phoenix Suns. It was a hard-fought win between two of the west’s top contenders this season. The Suns were without all-star Chris Paul for the 4th straight game, but are still a good team and did not make life easy for the Jazz. For Utah, it was the second straight encouraging win against a playoff team. Before the all-star break, the Jazz couldn’t seem to catch a break in close games against anybody let alone good teams. Now they have won two straight crunch time games against two western conference contenders.
The Suns game came out of the gates on fire and led by as many as 14 during the 1st quarter. They weren’t able to run away though as the Jazz came back to tie it at 32 apiece after the 1st quarter. It was a close game the rest of the way, with neither team leading by more than 10 points. Devin Booker led the Suns with 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. The key for Phoenix was a lack of depth. Without Paul leading their squad, the bench had a below-average performance and just didn’t have enough to keep up with the Jazz when they went on their momentum stealing run at the end of the third quarter.
Utah looked like they wanted to send a message in this game. With several players playing well not only on offense but on defense as well. It was as impressive a defensive performance as they have had all season. Donovan Mitchell in particular had several deflections and his overall effort on defense was fantastic! Mitchell looked very good as a leader in this game but the key player for Utah was Jordan Clarkson with 22 points and several big shots off the bench. The key stretch of the game for the Jazz came during the third quarter when the Phoenix lead grew to nine and it looked like they might go on a run to put the game away but the Jazz hung tough and clawed their way back into it.
The Jazz end February with a record of 8-1 which is refreshing for the fans and team alike after such a disastrous January record. The Suns lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season and now have a record of 49-12, they will try to regroup when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. The Jazz improve their record to 38-22 and have now won 8 out of their last 9 games. Utah will have a couple of days to bask in this win but then it is back to business on Wednesday at the Rockets for game two of the five-game road trip.