Utah Jazz Top 4 In West Following Win Over Suns

Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz closed out 2016 with a 91-86 win over the Phoenix Suns to move into the Top 4 of the Western Conference standings.

For their final game of 2016, the Utah Jazz gave a performance that was a microcosm of their season so far. Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert played like stars, the injury bug bit (George Hill) once again and the team either looked great or horrible depending on when you tuned in.

Thankfully, it all added up to a result fans can live with — a 91-86 New Year’s Eve victory over the Phoenix Suns to move into fourth place in the Western Conference. The win definitely didn’t come easy for Utah.

Although the rebuilding Suns are currently tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the West’s worst record at 10-24, the Jazz found themselves in a dogfight with Earl Watson’s team down the stretch. With just 12.3 ticks remaining and the Jazz clinging to an 89-86 advantage, Phoenix came out of a timeout with a chance to tie the game.

However, a three-point attempt by Suns guard Devin Booker in the game’s waning seconds fell just short, leaving Hayward to ice the game at the line.

As has been the case throughout the 2016-17 campaign it was Hayward and Gobert who propelled the Jazz to the win. Hayward finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists; a solid, if underwhelming line by his standards. It was Gobert who really led the way with 18 points of his own on a scorching 7-of-8 shooting, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.

It’s going to be hard to justify keeping either player out of February’s All-Star Game at this point.

Rodney Hood added 13 points and Joe Ingles hit 3-of-3 shots from distance for nine points off the bench. The Suns were led by Booker’s 20.

Unfortunately, the Jazz band couldn’t escape the game without another bump on the head. Quite literally, in fact.

George Hill, who only just returned to action after missing a month with a toe injury, took an errant Alex Len elbow to the head late in the second quarter. 18 stitches later, he was in the league’s mandated concussion protocol with no timetable set for his return.

It’s a setback for his comeback for sure, but with the team having lost a combined 95 games to injury already, it kind of seems like business as usual in Utah.

On the plus side, business as usual has also meant the Jazz playing winning basketball. The victory over the Suns marked the squad’s third-straight win. At 21-13, they’re currently on pace for a 50-win season and a Top 4 seed in the West come playoff time.

Injuries notwithstanding, that’s not a bad way to ring in the New Year.

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