Jazz-Suns Preview

While the Utah Jazz are out to prove they are among the better

teams in the league, the Phoenix Suns simply are trying to find

some consistency.

Earning a last-second victory over a Western Conference power

the last time out was a good place to start for each squad.

Utah looks to earn a third straight victory in the series while

avoiding a fourth consecutive loss in Phoenix on Friday night.

The Jazz (13-10) are riding a season-best four-game winning

streak after Mo Williams hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to

give them a 99-96 home win over San Antonio on Wednesday.

”We’re on a mission,” said Williams, who missed his first

three 3-point attempts. ”We want to be good. We don’t know our

ceiling yet.”

Paul Millsap finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, Al

Jefferson added 21 points and Gordon Hayward had 19 off the bench

for Utah, which also beat Orlando, blew out Toronto by 32 and

earned a seven-point road win over the Los Angeles Lakers during

its streak.

”We wanted to show everybody what we’re capable of doing, and

if we continue to play like that we’re going to shock the world,”

Millsap said. “The sky’s the limit for us.

”We’re headed in the right direction. We’re starting to figure

out how to win.”

Phoenix (8-15) hopes it’s on track to do the same after ending a

seven-game losing streak with a dramatic 82-80 win over Memphis on


Goran Dragic scored the last of his 12 points on a short hook

shot with 0.5 seconds remaining to give the Suns their first

victory since Nov. 27.

“It was a much needed win, obviously, for us and once again it

was against a real quality team,” said coach Alvin Gentry, whose

team shot only 36.8 percent for its second-worst mark of the

season. “I thought our defense was really, really good. We

struggled offensively, but I thought our defense was really good.

We did a good job.”

Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown led Phoenix with 15 points


”We lost every possible way you can – close games, blowouts,

bad teams, good teams, different ways, different lineups – and

sometimes you forget how to win,” Dudley said. ”Now we can start

trying to get this thing rolling.”

The Suns will look to do so by winning a fourth straight home

meeting with the Jazz, who rank near the bottom of the West

allowing an average of 103.3 points per game on the road, where

they’ve lost nine of 13.

Utah, though, has won the previous two meetings, both in Salt

Lake City. Jefferson is averaging 20.5 points and 11.2 rebounds in

21 career games versus Phoenix, marking the most points and

second-most rebounds he averages against any team.

He had 27 points and 14 rebounds while Millsap added 18 and 13

to help beat the Suns 94-81 in the most recent matchup Nov. 10

without Williams, who sat out with a strained right adductor.

Luis Scola had 21 points and 11 boards and Dragic contributed 13

points and six assists for the Suns in that contest.