SALT LAKE CITY — Two bad minutes worked better than anything else to get the Phoenix Suns’ offense running.
Phoenix burned a quick timeout after the Utah Jazz scored the game’s first nine points. It gave the Suns a chance to assess what went wrong and change course before Utah could snowball a small run into a much larger one.
Phoenix turned it around with an aggressive offensive approach and put six players in double figures in a 112-101 victory over the Jazz on Friday night.
“We just tried to push the ball,” guard Goran Dragic said. “Tried to get to the middle of the paint and tried to find open guys. When we share the ball, we’re a really dangerous team.”
Markieff Morris came off the bench to score 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting to lead all scorers. Dragic had 19 points and nine assists, while reserve point guard Eric Bledsoe also chipped in 19. Miles Plumlee added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Suns beat Utah for the second time this month and did it through near-perfect offensive execution for four quarters. Phoenix had no trouble getting into an offensive rhythm, shooting 41 of 75 (54.7 percent) from the field. The Suns turned over the ball just eight times and generated 18 assists.
They kept Utah at a comfortable distance for much of the game despite a strong offensive outing for the Jazz. Marvin Williams had 18 points and Alec Burks added 16 off the bench as Utah shot 48 percent.
The Jazz also had 39-30 edge on the glass. Utah outscored Phoenix 60-52 in the paint and had a 20-11 advantage in second chance points.
But Phoenix shook off everything the Jazz did on the offensive end by matching them shot for shot from outside and inside.
“Everybody is getting involved,” Morris said. “We’re getting a lot of 3-pointers. We’re a great 3-point shooting team. We’re doing a great job of getting the ball inside and doing the pick-and-roll really well. That’s basically it. Our guards have done a great job of finding players and getting them the ball.”
The Jazz made four straight baskets to open the game – culminating in a 3-pointer from Williams to make it 9-0.
Phoenix regrouped after a quick timeout and the Suns quickly erased the Jazz lead behind hot shooting from Dragic.
The Jazz clung to a slim lead until Dragic buried a 3-pointer to put Phoenix back in front at 44-42. It was the beginning of a 13-3 run that helped the Suns take control of the game before halftime. Morris capped the spurt with a 3-pointer, extending Phoenix’s lead to 54-45 with 3:25 left before halftime.
“They made shots,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They got what they wanted. They had us spread out, they got drives and they got the ball where they wanted to in the initial part of the offense.”
Weak defense proved to be a huge obstacle for the Jazz through all four quarters. Phoenix shot 24-of-38 (63.2 percent) from the field and 6-of-13 (46.2 percent) from the perimeter in the first half alone. With the Suns getting into a good rhythm offensively, creating distance between them and the Jazz was not a difficult task.
Phoenix shot 12-of-18 (66.7 percent) from the floor in the third quarter to break the game open after halftime. The Suns attacked Utah from all over the floor and were able to immediately answer whatever the Jazz did on the offensive end.
“We couldn’t get stops and they did a great job of executing in the half-court and also in transition,” Williams said. “They put a lot of pressure on us every time we got the ball and that was the difference.”
Utah drew as close as nine points when Williams hit a pair of free throws to make it 78-69 with 5:33 left in the quarter. Morris answered by running off Phoenix’s next three baskets to spark a 10-0 run. Bledsoe capped off the spurt by turning a steal into an uncontested layup – giving the Suns an 88-69 lead with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter.