Suns 100, Jazz 86
Once considered long shots to even make the playoffs, the
Phoenix Suns are entering the postseason as the No. 3 seed in the
The Suns looked much more like a contender than the
“overachiever” label they’ve carried throughout the season in a
100-86 win at Utah on Wednesday, locking up the third seed in the
West while sending the Jazz tumbling to fifth.
“It was a great way to finish the regular season – for a team
that was picked by many to be on the outside looking into the
playoffs or at the bottom of the playoff list,” said Steve Nash,
who had 11 assists in just three quarters. “To finish third in the
West is rewarding. And most importantly we’re playing well and
heading into the playoffs fairly good.”
Amare Stoudemire finished with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Channing Frye scored 10 of his 15 points in the second quarter for
the Suns, who capped their surge through the West standings by
ending Utah’s 10-game home winning streak and ripping away the
Jazz’s hopes of opening the playoffs in Utah.
Goran Dragic added 12 points and Jared Dudley scored 11 as the
Suns’ reserves outscored Utah’s 50-13.
Utah shot just 39 percent and committed 19 turnovers.
“Hopefully we’ve learned something from tonight and now we move
on,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
Phoenix finished behind only the Lakers and Mavericks in the
West. Phoenix will open the playoffs Sunday at home against
“No one really gave us a chance to be in the playoffs –
period,” Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said.
The Jazz finished fifth in the West and will open the playoffs
at Denver, which claimed the Northwest Division and No. 4 seed by
holding the tiebreaker over Utah.
Deron Williams led Utah with 24 points and Mehmet Okur finished
with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Carlos Boozer, Utah’s leading scorer and rebounder, was out with
a strained muscle in his rib cage and the Jazz struggled inside
without him, especially after Okur and Paul Millsap got in foul
The Jazz get a few days to recover before playing at Denver on
“It looked like they were on a mission and came in here and
outplayed us. Simple as that,” Williams said. “We just need to
put this one behind us. We had a chance to get the three seed but
we let this one slip away and we don’t have home-court advantage,
but there’s still a lot of basketball to play.”
Phoenix capitalized inside as the Jazz missed Boozer, but it was
the Suns’ outside shooting during a torrid second quarter that blew
open the game. Nash gave the Suns a 24-23 lead with a 3-pointer
late in the first and Phoenix never trailed again.
Phoenix flustered Utah throughout the second quarter and opened
the period on a 15-3 run, forcing six turnovers in the period and
outscoring Utah 29-17 for a 59-42 halftime lead. Frye scored 10 in
the quarter, hitting two of Phoenix’s four 3-pointers, and Dragic
added seven points.
“They’re the ones that got us separation. It wasn’t the first
group. It was the second group,” Gentry said. “They do a good
job. They totally believe each other. That’s why we put them in and
we leave them in for a long time sometimes.”
Utah’s frustration started showing when Williams got tangled up
with Leandro Barbosa while the two were headed up court and
Williams ended up shoving Barbosa to get him away. Barbosa was
called for the foul, but Williams was called for an offensive foul
six seconds later and the Jazz continued to unravel as the calls
went against them.
Utah shot 27 percent (6 for 22) in the second and stayed flat in
the third, relying mostly on outside shots as Stoudemire and former
Utah center Jarron Collins shut down the lane.
The meager runs the Jazz managed were always answered with
something more from the Suns, who rested Nash for all of the fourth
Jason Richardson scored 12 for the Suns.
NOTES: Phoenix went 23-6 after the All-Star break. … Boozer
missed just his fourth game of the season for Utah. … The Jazz
honored late owner Larry H. Miller by retiring the No. 9 – his
softball number – and renaming the court at EnergySolutions Arena
during a halftime ceremony. … The Jazz were just 1-3 against
Denver this season. … Stoudemire scored 12 in the first