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Hornacek's Suns rip Jazz

The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- Friday was an especially painful loss for Utah Jazz fans who wanted Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek to succeed Jerry Sloan as the team's head coach.

Hornacek improved to 2-0 against his former team as the Suns blasted the Jazz 112-101 at EnergySolutions Arena.

Phoenix shot a season-best 54.7 percent from the field and had six players score at least 13 points while improving to a surprising 9-7. Reserve forward Markieff Morris led the Suns with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

"I thought we played the game very well for three quarters," Hornacek said. "We moved the ball and we made shots. We had the lead and then kind of goofed around a little bit there in the fourth quarter."

By then, the Suns' lead was so big it didn't matter.

This was the first win in the Beehive State for Hornacek, a former Jazz player who took the Suns' head coaching job after spending time on Utah's bench with Jerry Sloan and Tyrone Corbin since 2007.

The Suns edged Utah 87-84 in Phoenix on Nov. 1. The two teams will play again Saturday night at US Airways Center.

Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said the defeat, which dropped Utah to 2-15, wasn't any more painful against a friend who's also been his assistant and teammate. Hornacek joined Corbin's staff as a full-time assistant in February 2011 after Sloan surprisingly called it quits.

"It's a loss. Jeff, I'm happy for him. He's doing a good job for his team," Corbin said. "They played the best basketball tonight. I'm happy for him, but I'm disappointed in us losing the game."

Forward Marvin Williams scored 18 points to lead the Jazz, who lost after a three-day break following their second win of the season. Utah edged Chicago on Monday 89-83 in overtime to snap a six-game losing streak.

"They made shots. They got what they wanted," Corbin said. "They had us spread out. They got drives (and) they got the ball where they wanted to in the initial part of the offense. We didn't give our best effort tonight, I think."

Guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic each scored 19 points for the Suns. This was Bledsoe's first appearance after missing six games with a shin injury.

The Suns took an early timeout just two minutes and four seconds into the game after the Jazz jumped out to a 9-0 lead. Gerald Green got Phoenix on the board with an 11-foot jumper on the Suns' next possession.

Dragic then scored nine consecutive points to tie the game at 11.

"Coach told us to push the tempo and try and get some easy baskets and try to get everyone involved," Dragic said after his nine-assist outing. "We didn't play good defense and they took advantage of it and made a run, 9-0. We came back and played hard."

The teams remained in a tight battle until midway through the second quarter. Phoenix outscored Utah 20-9 in the final 6:41 of the first half to take a 62-51 lead into the break.

Dragic scored 17 points in that opening half to spark the Suns, who shot a blistering 63.2 percent from the field in the first two quarters.

Markieef Morris scored nine points in the third quarter as the Suns expanded their lead to 20.

Six Jazz players hit double figures and Utah surpassed the century mark in scoring for only the second time this season. The Jazz won the other time they scored more than 100 points, beating New Orleans 111-105.

"They put a lot of pressure on us every time we got the ball, and that was the difference, I think," Williams said. "The coaches did a really good job of emphasizing during the (pregame) scout that they were big in transition points, and obviously we found out why tonight."

Despite the Suns' fast-pace style, the Jazz outscored the Suns 19-18 on fast-break points.

NOTES: Friday was the first time in two decades that Jeff Hornacek was in EnergySolutions Arena as the home team's opponent. The Suns' new head coach played for Utah from 1994-2000 and came out of retirement to help coach the Jazz from 2007-13. "It's a little strange being in that visitors' locker room," he admitted. ... Hornacek didn't regale his team with tales of the Jazz's two NBA Finals trips or point out his retired No. 14 jersey hanging in the arena's rafters. "They don't care," he said. ... Rookie Ian Clark and journeyman Mike Harris were inactive for the Jazz. This is the first time all season Utah has had all 15 players available for action. Only 13 players are allowed to dress. ... Jazz rookie Trey Burke grew up in Columbus, Ohio, but played two seasons at rival Michigan. His pick for today's rivalry game at The Big House? "I'm going with Michigan," Burke said. "Obviously, we're the underdog in this. Everybody at home wants me to root for Ohio State. I want the Big Blue to win."
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