Suns look to continue mastery of Jazz

The Suns’ Luis Scola doesn’t know how long it will last, but he’s hoping
to stay in the groove. The forward will try to add to his resurgence
Friday night while leading the Suns to a fifth consecutive home win in
their series with the short-handed Jazz.

Scola was
averaging 11.7 points — his fewest since his 2007-08 rookie season —
through the first 30 games, but he’s awakened from that slump in the
past week. He is averaging 26.0 points on 57.9 percent shooting over the
last three games, and he had a team-best 21 when Phoenix (12-21)
snapped a six-game skid Wednesday with a 95-89 home win over
Philadelphia.

“I feel like I’m in a better rhythm.
I’m playing with more confidence and I know my teammates better. It took
me a little time but I’m happy with the way things are going now. I
just need to keep it going,” Scola said. “There’s one thing you learn in
the NBA: things change so quickly that you can never get relaxed. You
need to find a way to keep doing what you’re
doing.”

Scola will try to keep things going while
helping the Suns earn back-to-back victories for the first time since a
season-high four-game win streak from Dec. 12-19. Phoenix will try to
accomplish that feat while sending Utah (16-17) to its eighth loss in 11
games and fourth in its last five on the road.

The
Jazz are coming off a lopsided 106-84 win over Minnesota on Wednesday,
but they had the comfort of playing on their own floor where they’re
10-4. Utah, 6-13 on the road, will play five of its next six games away
from Salt Lake City and won’t have Mo Williams to
help.

The starting point guard, averaging 12.9 points
and 6.7 assists, will be out for at least another six weeks after
surgery for an injured right thumb.

“We can’t feel
sorry for ourselves,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “This is who we have and
we have to figure out how we can be as good as we can with this group
right now.”

The Jazz would love to start showing
their potential by earning their first win in Phoenix since March 4,
2010. They lost 99-84 there Dec. 14 as the Suns’ Jared Dudley scored 22
points to pace five players in double figures.

Scola
wasn’t one of those players. He finished with just four points on 2-of-8
shooting.

With 14 points and 11 rebounds, Al
Jefferson was the top scorer for Utah, which shot 40.2 percent and was 3
of 11 from 3-point range.

The Jazz beat the Suns
94-81 at home Nov. 10 as Jefferson had 27 points and 14 rebounds. Scola
had a team-best 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Suns, but they shot
just 36.8 percent and were 4 of 16 from beyond the
arc.

Dudley, who has combined for 15 points on
5-of-15 shooting in the last two games, is averaging 16.8 points on 56.9
percent shooting in his past five meetings with Utah.