Thu, 19 May 2022

Faltering Jazz hope to slow down surging Suns

Field Level Media
24 Jan 2022, 18:40 GMT+10

Phoenix has sizzled since the start of January, winning nine of its last 10 games. Now the Suns turn up the heat when they host fellow Western Conference contender Utah on Monday.

It is the first of a two-game set against the Jazz. The two teams will battle again in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.Utah and Phoenix are teams who appear to be headed in opposite directions.

Phoenix has lost just once in 2022 so far. The Suns ran off their sixth consecutive victory after beating Indiana 113-103 on Saturday. Devin Booker struggled on offense against the Pacers, shooting just 5-of-23 from the field. It didn't do much to slow down Phoenix.

Mikal Bridges stepped up to lead the Suns with a season-high 23 points. Bismack Biyombo matched a career-high, chipping in 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Chris Paul added 18 points and 16 assists.

"That's what makes us a pretty good team," Bridges said. "Everybody can play, everybody can hoop. We just feed off of each other and we're all unselfish. We play for each other and find each other."

Phoenix has matched its best start through 45 games. The Suns have just nine losses, their fewest at this juncture in a season since also opening 36-9 in the 2006-07 season.

Paul leads the league in assists (10.1 apg) entering Monday's game. As a team, Phoenix tops the NBA in net rating (7.9) - contributing greatly to their continued success.

The Suns will have to keep the momentum going without Jae Crowder and Cameron Payne. Both players were ruled out for Monday's game against the Jazz after suffering wrist injuries against the Pacers on Saturday.

"I was mad because it was similar plays," Paul said. "To see Cam go down in the first half, then to see Jae go down, it's tough, man. We've got a tight-knit group over here and we know how hard guys work."

Deandre Ayton is doubtful after missing his third straight game with a right ankle sprain.

Utah will also be shorthanded against the Suns on Monday.

Donovan Mitchell is still going through concussion protocol and did not travel with the team to Golden State on Sunday. Mitchell has been sidelined for four straight games since getting injured against the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 17. It is one more obstacle to overcome in what has been a tough month for the Jazz.

Utah has won just twice in its last nine games. The Jazz dropped a heartbreaker against the Warriors, falling 94-92. Bojan Bogdanovic missed a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds and Royce O'Neale could not get a follow-up tip-in layup to drop.

The final sequence perfectly encapsulated a tough fourth quarter offensively for Utah. The Jazz held Golden State to 11 points in that stretch, but scored just 17 themselves.

"It wasn't the most well-played game, there were missed shots, but I thought both teams really, really competed and battled," Utah coach Quin Snyder said.

Rudy Gobert's status is doubtful for Monday after straining his calf late against Golden State.

--Field Level Media

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