The Phoenix Suns fought hard on a back-to-back after a late road loss against the Portland Trail Blazers the night before, returning home and beating the very big and physical Utah Jazz.
Before you start thinking that the Jazz's record of 17-33 means that they should have been an easy win, let me remind you that this is the same team who destroyed the Suns early in the season at their place, beating Phoenix by 27 points.
That game, oddly enough, was also on the second game of a back-to back for the Suns. Needless to say, I and many others were more than a little worried about how this game would turn out as well.
After another slow start, in which the Jazz jumped out to a 7-0 lead, and eventually leading by as many as 11, the Suns were able to claw back into the game, slowly but surely, and eventually closed out the first quarter with a one point lead, up 25-24.
The Jazz would never lead again.
Although many players contributed to the Suns' victory, there was nobody who did more for Phoenix than Marcus Morris. Marcus not only set a new career high in scoring with 34 points (11/17 from the field, 5/7 from three), he also set a new career high in rebounds with 12.
Marcus led all scorers and tied Rudy Gobert of the Jazz in rebounding...you know, the 7 ' 2" center with a 7' 9" wingspan. It was an impressive performance by Marcus to say the least, and one that should help him become recognized as a good player in his own right, and not just the twin brother of Markieff Morris.
Here's what the players had to say after the win: (Thanks again, Evan!)
Miles talked about his first game back in the starting line-up since Alex Len was promoted earlier in the season. He talked about being rusty, and recovering from a cold, but trying to give the Suns the defense and rebounding that they need inside.
Goran talked about the importance of the bench's contributions, and how they need every player to help step up. He also talked about having the front-court step up tonight...which is what the team needed against the huge centers and forwards in Utah's lineup.
Keef was noticeably happy and in a good mood after the game tonight...Probably very happy for his brother, who he said probably took more shots tonight than any other, which was part of the reason for his success.
Marcus wasn't nearly as jovial as Keef after the game, even after having a career night on two fronts. He was much more stoic and reserved. But Marcus did credit his teammates with finding him, and mostly downplayed his part by saying that he just made his shots.
This was a big win for the Suns who will play two more games before the All-Star break...on the road against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, then back at home against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
The Suns need every win they can get with the New Orleans Pelicans merely one game behind them in the standings now, after a big win last night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But for now, at least, Phoenix remains in the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings...and last night's win was key in keeping them there for the time being.