The Phoenix Suns begin the game with the starting lineup of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, and Miles Plumlee. The Utah Jazz begin with their starting lineup of Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter.
The Jazz win the tip and Favors makes his first attempt, a 15 foot jump shot...then Hayward hits a three. The Suns miss their first two attempts.
Plumlee gets a block on Kanter, but then gets whistled for a foul when Kanter grabs his own rebound...But he misses both FTs. Favors gets a dunk on the next possession.
Markieff Morris is the first to score for the Suns ending a 7-0 Jazz run to start the game.
Jazz go up early 13-6 on the Suns who are once again starting flat. Timeout Phoenix. Suns shooting only 37% so far, Jazz at 75%
Isiah Thomas and Brandan Wright come in for Dragic and Plumlee at around the 5 minute mark.
Suns still falling behind due to lights out shooting from Utah, and poor defense by Phoenix. Hayward already has 11 points, and Utah is up 22-11 with three and a half minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Utah is playing tough interior defense on the Suns...denying the pass inside and forcing Suns to shoot from distance.
Rudy Gobert didn't even extend his arm to dunk.
Suns starting to come alive...making some shots and getting some stops...Still can't get inside, but hitting their jumpers.
Marcus hits a couple of big jump shots, and Bledsoe gets a fast break to take the lead by one, 25-24 at the end of the first quarter. Suns shooting 50% now, Jazz still shooting higher at 57%.
Jazz turnovers let Suns take the lead to end the 1st quarter. They have 5 compared to just one for the Suns. Jazz are out-shooting and out-rebounding PHX.
Marcus Morris still with the hot hand to open up the second quarter for the Suns with a jump shot. He now has 13 points on 4/4 shooting, including 2/2 from three.
Suns are finding Marcus who just hit another shot...now has 15.
Marcus is dong everything...now has a block on defense as well.
Marcus finally misses as a three rims out.
Tucker hits the three on the next possession though, and the Suns are now up by five, 32-27, with eight minutes to go in the second quarter. Timeout Utah.
Gerald Green gets on the board with a deep two...foot on the line
Chris Johnson hits a three, then Rudy Gobert tips in a missed two as the Utah Jazz re-take the lead, up 35-34, halfway through the quarter. Timeout Suns.
Marcus hits another three, but Chris Johnson answers right back...Then Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Morris again hit threes.
Marcus Morris with another three! He now has 24 points in just under 14 minutes...He's on fire!!!
Back to back Plumdunks!!!
Suns really playing inspired and with energy, all sparked by the play of Marcus Morris. They now lead the Jazz 50-42 with over two minutes remaining.
Goran Dragic is just too fast...He gets the fast break and runs passed Exum and Hayward going to the rim.
Suns up 12 to end the 1st half, 54-42. Marcus Morris leads all scorers with 24 pts and 9 rbs. Suns shooting 55% now, Jazz at 47%. Utah out-rebounding Phoenix 23-17, and leading points in the paint 22-16 so far. But turnovers have hurt the Jazz, committing 10 compared to just 3 for the Suns so far.
Bledsoe starts off the third quarter for Phoenix with a three point jump shot.
Hayward gets fouled and goes to the line though and hits both FTs, and then Ingles gets a basket, as the Suns miss and turn the ball over.
Utah is rolling again...Suns need to get going again before they lose their lead. Only up five now, 59-54...Timeout Suns
Miles Plumlee should only dunk the basketball...he does that very well.
Bledsoe hits another three, and the Suns are now back up by 11.
Thomas and Wright check in for Bledsoe and Plumlee with three minutes remaining in the quarter.
It's going back and forth, but after letting their lead slip to just five, they are doing a good job of keeping it around 10-12 now.
Nevermind...just after I said that, Favors hits a jump shot and then Gobert dunks...and the lead is back to just 6 points.
Marcus Morris with a new career high...26 points and counting!
Jazz are still closing in though, now cutting the lead back to just five points again.
Suns lead 76-71 after the third quarter. Suns shooting 50%, Jazz at 46%. Jazz still winning the rebounding battle so far, 32-28. Also leading in the paint scoring 36 points compared to just 24 for the Suns. Phoenix turned the ball over more in the third which allowed Utah to gain some ground. Utah stood pat with 10, but Suns now have 9.
Isaiah Thomas hits a three to start the fourth quarter for the Suns...Then Gobert abuses the rim with a huge, uncontested dunk.
P.J. Tucker then hits another three on the next possession.
Marcus with another basket, he now has 28.
Suns have the lead back up to 9 at the moment...need to hold on for another 8 minutes!
Bledsoe coming back in for Green who has had another pretty uneventful night...only 2 points on 1/5 shooting, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in 13 minutes.
Bledsoe wastes no time getting on the board with a basket near the rim.
Marcus now with 30 off of a fast break layup!
Marcus now set a new career high in rebounding as well with 11...He's had quite a night!
Plumlee just air-balled a hook shot from 5 feet away.
Marcus hits two more free throws to put his point total now at 32.
Chris Johnson makes a three point shot to cut the lead to six, but then Tucker hits a three to answer right back.
Suns are up 7 with 30 seconds remaining...they have this now.
Marcus putrs the icing on the cake with two more free throws..34 points.
Game Over, Suns Win!!!
Phoenix started the game off flat again tonight, but started surging late in the first quarter thanks to the play of Marcus Morris who continued his hot streak through the second quarter, ending up with 24 points and 9 rebounds by halftime. He shot 8/11 from the field in the first half, including 3/4 from three, and was the catalyst to the Suns taking the lead.
Morris finished the game with a much quieter second half, scoring only a couple more points, but enough to set a new career high in both scoring (34) and rebounding (12). Great game for Marcus!
Prior to tonight's game, I was very concerned about the size of the Jazz, and how the Suns would match-up against them, especially without Alex Len. This proved to be an accurate worry, with the Jazz definitely dominating in the paint.
However, the hot shooting of Phoenix, especially in the second quarter which helped them take a double-digit lead going into the half, was the difference for the Suns, and helped them counter the size and physicality of Utah inside.
The Suns were able to hold onto at least some of their lead in the third quarter, but the Jazz were able to close the gap at the end to just five.
Phoenix once again stretched the lead back up to 11 in the fourth, and then bounced around going back and forth, but it was enough to secure the victory in the end.
With the New Orleans Pelicans beating the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight, the Suns are holding onto the eighth spot by the skin on their teeth, up one game. They would have been tied if they lost tonight.
Phoenix stays in the 8th spot for another day...Let's hope they can win the next few games before the break as well and continue to stave off the other teams making their own playoff push.