Phoenix came out hot to start the first quarter on offense, and picked up right where they left off against the Grizzlies defensively.Goran Dragic was playing fast and furious and attacking the basket with every opportunity to help establish an aggressive pace right off the bat. Jared Dudley was also very effective once again to start the game, scoring 13 points in his first 18 minutes to go along with 3 assists and 2 steals.
Not only that, but Michale Beasley was able to get off to a hot start scoring 8 points in the first quarter off 3-5 shooting in only 10 minutes at the power forward spot. The Suns continued their defensive blitzkrieg and held the Jazz to only 30% from the field in the second quarter and were able to take a 14 point lead going into the half.
The Jazz opened up the third quarter going on a 12-6 run to cut the lead to only 8 before Gentry called a time out. The Suns simply didn't show the same intensity on the defensive end, as Utah began getting the open shots that simply weren't there in the first half. Luis Scola was cold offensively so Gentry opted to go with Beasley at the 4 again after his hot start in the first half. The Jazz attacked Beasley who couldn't stop them on D and wasn't nearly as effective on offense as he was to start the game.
Still, the Suns found some solid play behind Dragic and the defense and rebounding of Gortat. The Suns traded baskets with the Jazz through the remainder of the third quarter. The Suns bench came in late in the quarter and held serve, playing well enough to hold onto the lead at 77-65 at the end of three.
The Suns second unit plus Dudley started the fourth quarter and allowed a quick bucket and two turnovers from the Jazz that once again cut the lead down to seven. After the Suns had done so well protecting the ball with only 9 turnovers to that point, Gentry couldn't have been happy to see his bench start the final quarter so sloppily.
However, Phoenix was able to swing the momentum right back in their favor through none other than the "Junk Yard Dog" himself, as Dudley hustled his way into the paint on offense and drew a loose ball foul against Utah on defense which not only gave the Suns the ball back, but also cost the Jazz a technical foul at the hands of the upset Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin.
P.J. Tucker also got into the action with a couple of nice fast-breaks off steals, though only converting on one and missing two free throws on the other. He also had a really nice drive through traffic shortly after to finish with a nice spinning layup at the rim. Dragic came back in at around the seven minute mark to help close the game along with Dudley, Tucker, Morris, and Jermaine O'Neal. O'Neal also had some impressive plays on offense and defense to help secure the win and help the Suns go on a 12-2 run to expand the lead to 15 with about six minutes remaining.
Marcin Gortat eventually came in to replace O'Neal and was able to score one final bucket off a beautiful pick and roll pass from Dragic to register a double-double in points and rebounding for the night. In the end, it was a great team win with nearly every player who touched the floor (except for an off night from Luis Scola) able to help contribute to the victory.
The Suns were led by Jared Dudley who had 22 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals in his nearly 43 minutes of play. Goran Dragic was also impressive with his 17 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals. PJ Tucker gets the nod for the Suns best defender tonight which led to at least a few of his 10 offensive points as well.
The Jazz were led by Al Jefferson's 14 points on only 6-16 shooting and 11 rebounds. Paul Millsap was also relatively quiet with only 12 points and 7 rebounds, and the Suns all but shot down Gordon Hayward who was held to just 3 points on 0-5 shooting from the field. Defense!
This makes two well-earned, hard fought defensive victories in a row for the Suns against quality Western Conference opponents. Let's hope this trend continues.
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