SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Al Jefferson was still feeling a bit queasy from a stomach ailment. He just didn’t let it show on the court Saturday night.
A day after shooting 1 of 9, Jefferson looked like a new man, scoring a season-high 27 points and adding 14 rebounds in the Utah Jazz’s 94-81 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Paul Millsap added 18 points and 13 rebounds for Utah, which built a 22-point lead, then went to its veterans after the Suns pulled within five late.
“We knew we had to close it out at the end,” said Jefferson, who along with Millsap had six points, four rebounds and a steal in the fourth. “We’re two of the three leaders on this team and one of our leaders (Mo Williams) was out. We just had to step up, and finish the game off. It was a big game before we hit the road, and the way we played last night, we had to have a special night.”
The Jazz lost by 20 to Denver on Friday night. Phoenix, meanwhile, overcame a 26-point deficit to beat Cleveland.
The Suns looked as if they might pull off another huge comeback when Michael Beasley’s follow dunk after a Jazz turnover cut Utah’s lead to 79-74 with about five minutes remaining.
But Millsap ended a scoreless streak of nearly 6 minutes with a 19-footer to start a 7-0 run, capped by Marvin Williams’ 3 pointer.
The Suns pulled within seven again, only to have Jefferson hit a 10-foot turnaround jump shot, then block Luis Scola at the other end.
Scola led the Suns with 21 points and Jared Dudley scored 16. Goran Dragic added 13 points and six assists.
“When you’re down 22, it is very difficult,” said Scola, who scored eight of his 21 points in the fourth. “We have had a bad quarter in pretty much every game we play. Sometimes we come back, sometimes we don’t. It is very difficult. We need to fix it.”
The Suns trailed 29-19 after one and by 16 in the second quarter, then were outscored 27-18 in the third when they shot just 27.3 percent.
Again Millsap and Jefferson did much of the damage.
Millsap scored on a driving layup, then sank a free throw on the next possession to give Utah a 20-point lead with 3:44 left in the third quarter.
Derrick Favors’ dunk made it 77-55, and the Jazz took a 77-61 lead into the fourth.
The Jazz won despite missing starting point guard Mo Williams because of a strained adductor.
Jamaal Tinsley went scoreless starting in his place but handed out 14 assists for the Jazz, who are 3-0 at home.
“I thought he was great,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said of Tinsley, who had 10 assists in the first half. “I thought he got a little tired at the end and made some errant plays but for the most part he got us into the stuff we needed to get into. I just respect his professionalism.”
Suns coach Alvin Gentry was more worried about Utah’s bigs before the game, and with good reason.
Utah held a 52-37 edge in rebounds, 52-36 advantage on points in the paint and held the Suns to 36.8 percent shooting.
While Utah made eight of its first 13 shots, the Suns started 3 of 10.
“I don’t think we were flat,” Gentry said. “You have to get the ball in the basket … Our defense was pretty good. During one stretch (we made) eight out of 10 stops and we didn’t make up any ground because we didn’t get the ball in the basket on the other end.”
The Suns were down 22 points with 2:45 remaining in the third, but opened the fourth on a 9-2 run to pull within 79-70 on Sebastian Telfair’s driving layup with 9:24 left. Dudley then stole the ball from Tinsley and dunked at the other end with 6:18 left to pull Phoenix within 79-72, and Beasley’s follow made it a five-point game.
But Utah’s size was too much to overcome. Jefferson and Millsap shot a combined 6 of 9 in the fourth quarter.
Gordon Hayward added 18 points for the Jazz but was just 6 of 17 shooting and committed four turnovers.
Jefferson was determined to put Friday night’s disappointing effort behind him.
The Jazz got off to a fast start behind Jefferson, who opened 4 of 5. Jefferson had more points in the first four minutes Saturday (six) than he did in the loss to Denver on Friday (four). He finished 12 of 20, with a pair of blocks and assists.
He also got help from Utah’s other bigs.
Favors’ score after a behind-the-back dribble in the lane bumped Utah’s lead to 22-11 with 4:20 left, and Enes Kanter’s jam off an alley-oop pass from Tinsley gave Utah a 14-point lead.
Favors hit back-to-back shots to open the second quarter and Kanter’s impressive move on Markieff Morris in the paint bumped Utah’s lead to 35-19.
But after shooting 52 percent in the first, the Jazz went cold, hitting just 1 of 6 from 3-point range in the second and shooting 38 percent overall. Favors’ aggressive shot-blocking also got him in foul trouble, as he picked up his third with 8:12 left before half after opening 3 of 4 with three blocks.
As they did Friday, the Suns chipped away.
“We were down 26 last night and ended up winning, but how many times can you do that?” Scola said. “We need to be more solid and play 48 minutes. If we play 48 minutes, we’ll be OK.”
NOTES: Marcin Gortat was 0 of 6 for the Suns and finished with one point . … Shannon Brown started 0 of 6 and finished 1 of 9 for 4 points after averaging 21.3 points and shooting 54 percent the previous three games. … The last time Tinsley had 10 assists in a half was Nov. 21, 2007, when he was with Indiana. … Scola recorded his first double-double of the season as he added 11 rebounds.