Watching the Utah Jazz play basketball is akin to watching a stonemason — they both engage in tedious and deliberate work but it pays off in the end. The Phoenix Suns led the Jazz 23-20 after the 1st quarter, but Utah’s stifling defense kept the game close until their run finally came. When it did, the Suns had no answer, saw tempers flare, and ultimately dropped their 51st game of the season 116-88.
Phoenix trailed 40-35 with 3:51 left to play in the 1st half, but the Jazz finished the 2nd quarter on a 16-8 run, sparked by seven of Donovan Mitchell’s 10 1st-half points to lead 56-43 at the half. A 13-3 run to open the 2nd half by the Jazz over the first 2:50 gave them a 23-point lead, and Phoenix never presented a serious challenge again.
The Jazz made a conscious effort to take away Phoenix’s ability to shoot from 3. The Suns had just six attempts through the 1st half and finished 7 of 16 for the game.
And speaking of taking away, Utah also took away Devin Booker. Playing through a right hand injury, Booker scored just 12 points on 3-of-18 shooting on the night and missed all nine of his field goal attempts in the 2nd half. T.J. Warren had 19 points, and Josh Jackson had 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench; however, the Suns couldn’t put another scorer in double figures as they shot 39 percent from the field and committed 22 turnovers.
Mitchell led all scorers with 23 points, Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Utah put six players in double figures to beat Phoenix with a well-rounded effort for their 20th win in their last 22 games.
Tempers boiled over for Phoenix with 6:55 left in the 3rd quarter. After Marquese Chriss hit the ground on a failed dunk attempt, Jared Dudley retaliated against what he must’ve assumed was a bad no-call with an intentional foul on Ricky Rubio. When Rubio and Dudley came together to exchange words, Chriss shoved Rubio before the two teams came together. After everything was sorted out, Dudley was ejected on a flagrant 2, Chriss was ejected on a single technical foul, and Mitchell and Joe Ingles were each assessed a technical foul for their roles in the mini fracas.