SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—After getting staggered by an amazing run of 3-pointers, the Utah Jazz put on a rally that had even curmudgeonly coach Jerry Sloan almost cracking a smile.
The Jazz scored the final 12 points of the third quarter, then dominated the fourth in a 124-115 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday, continuing Utah’s run up the Western Conference standings.
“We were a little bit more alive defensively,” Sloan said. “I haven’t seen that for a while. I’ve kind of felt it coming, but I haven’t seen it like that where they stuck together and where they really worked hard to try to help each other defend.”
The defense led to offense as Utah rolled up 33 points on the Suns in the final period and controlled the boards 17-6.
Carlos Boozer(notes) finished with 21 points and 20 rebounds and rookie Wesley Matthews(notes) scored 10 of his career-high 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Utah Jazz rallied for their eighth win in 10 games.
Andrei Kirilenko(notes) had 25 points, six rebounds and three blocks and Deron Williams(notes) finished with 18 points and 11 assists for Utah. Mehmet Okur(notes) and Paul Millsap(notes) had 12 points apiece for the Jazz.
“The way we came back and hung in there, it was just a great team effort,” Williams said. “We’re definitely playing our best basketball right now.”
Phoenix scored 45 in the second quarter, but couldn’t maintain that pace and once the 3-pointers stopped falling, Utah was able to rally.
“We were up 17. We’ve got to be able to maintain that,” Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said.
The Jazz outrebounded the Suns 48-31 and used a 12-0 run at the end of the third quarter to get back in it, then pulled away in the fourth.
“We just couldn’t get into our offense,” Nash said. “They pushed us out. We had no penetration and we were just jacking up jump shots or turning it over.”
The Suns continued to surge late in the third quarter as Nash hit a 3-pointer to put Phoenix up 93-77. After a layup by Boozer, Frye hit another 3 and the Suns led 96-79.
Utah was finally able to make a legitimate run after that, scoring the last 12 points of the third to get to 96-91 entering the fourth, which Kirilenko opened with a dunk.
“We just felt like we had the momentum,” Williams said. “We just felt it shifted. We were able to get it to like four or five and you could just see them hanging their heads a little bit.”
The Jazz finally tied it on Matthews’ 3-pointer with 7:59 left in the game, but Dragic answered right back for the Suns eight seconds later with another 3 to put Phoenix up 103-100.
Frye added another 3-pointer with 6:48 left that gave the Suns a 106-102 lead, but the Jazz took over from there.
Boozer knocked down a 20-foot jumper, Matthews hit two free throws to tie it at 106 and then Kirilenko made two more foul shots with 5:16 left to put the Jazz up 108-106—Utah’s first lead since the first quarter.
Matthews hit another 3, which Dragic quickly matched for the Suns, but Millsap hit a baseline jumper Matthews made two foul shots after making a steal, Boozer hit two more from the line and Millsap added an 18-foot jumper. Nash drove for a layup to cut the lead to 119-111, but Williams answered that with a 3-pointer with 1:56 left and the Jazz had just about wrapped it up.
Notes: It was Boozer’s fifth career game with 20 points and 20 rebounds. … Nash needed just two assists to reach 8,000. … The Jazz shot 37 foul shots to Phoenix’s 23. … The 124 points was a season high for the Jazz. … Dragic’s previous career high was 20 scored Saturday against Golden State.