Shorthanded Suns routed by JazzJan 11, 2008 - 7:42 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Even with a combined 17 All-Star appearances on the sidelines, the fireworks were out in full force for the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz on Thursday night.
The three absences for the Suns, however, proved more damaging than those of their counterparts as the Jazz cruised to their fourth win in five games with a 108-86 victory.
Steve Nash (flu), Shawn Marion (elbow) and Grant Hill (appendectomy) were out of the lineup for Phoenix, while Andrei Kirilenko (lower back) and Matt Harpring (personal reasons) sat for Utah.
"They're definitely a different team without Steve Nash. There's a reason he's a two-time MVP," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. "We knew they're still a dangerous team, because they can still score, they've still got (Leandro)Barbosa, they've still got guys that can come in and attack. But we wanted to set the tempo early. I think we did a good job of that."
As a result, struggling All-Star Mehmet Okur made the most of an up-tempo battle, going for 22 points and a season-high 17 rebounds as the Jazz improved to 14-3 at home.
"I really felt good out there tonight," Okur said. "I started the ballgame and got to the free-throw line, I got offensive rebounds, then I stepped back (and shot). That's how I've got to start every game."
Second-year guard Ronnie Brewer tied career highs with 21 points and six rebounds, and Williams a likely All-Star in his third season dished out 11 assists to go with his 17 points for the Jazz.
"(Brewer) played great tonight," Williams said. "Ronnie was everywhere tonight putbacks, he shot the ball well, he slashed to the basket, he finished, hit his free throws. It was a great game for him on a national stage."
Even without Nash and company, the Suns stayed within striking distance, largely on the shoulders of Barbosa, who started in Nash's place and sparked the Suns with 16 first-quarter points.
But that lasted little more than one half. By the midway point of the third quarter, the Jazz were in control or more like cruise-control.
In just minutes, Utah turned a tight ballgame between Western Conference rivals into a blowout, closing the period on a 25-7 run.
"I thought our intensity was there, we came out strong in the ballgame," Williams said. "We had a little lapse there where they were able to catch up to them, but we broke out in that third quarter, just because of our defense, I think. Got some stops, we were able to get out and run and get some easy baskets."
At the eight-minute mark, Williams, finding plenty of room in the lane against Phoenix's depleted interior defense, ended a three-minute scoring drought and kick-started the run with a driving layup to push the Jazz's lead into double digits.
C.J. Miles, starting in Kirilenko's place, did his best imitation of the Russian forward, blocking Boris Diaw's lay-in attempt to lead a fast break the other way.
Things only got tougher for Phoenix, which found scoring options in Barbosa and Amare Stoudemire, but no one else.
"You're missing three dudes, especially of their caliber, it's gonna be tough to play without a lot of people," Suns guard Raja Bell said.
Brewer scored back-to-back buckets one off an alley-oop pass from Williams and the other a 20-foot jumper and scored 10 in the quarter as the Jazz's offense went on the attack.
"With D-Will, you've always gotta move and have your eyes on him, because he can find you from anywhere," Brewer said. "In this offense with Booz and Memo, they open up the lanes so much."
After taking just 12 free throws in the entire first half, the Jazz nearly doubled that in the third, going 9-of-10 from the line to take a commanding 86-60 lead through three.
Along with Phoenix's injuries, Utah's Kirilenko missed his second straight game with inflammation in his lower back, while Harpring was with his wife, who gave birth to the couple's second child.
Barbosa scored 25 points and Stoudemire had 21 for Phoenix, which had no other player reach double figures in scoring.
"We had an overtime game (Wednesday), so that definitely played a factor. And we didn't have all our guys, too," Stoudemire said. "We played them hard, we gave great effort - just fell short. This is a game that we're not down about, we're not upset about it. We came out and played hard and that's the way we look at it."
UTAH 108 FINAL
Jan 11 1:04 AM
UTAH 86 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 11 12:32 AM
UTAH 58 HALFTIME
Jan 10 11:45 PM
UTAH 35 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 10 11:12 PM
- Towns, Porzingis unanimously selected to All-Rookie 1st team May 19
- AP Source: Knicks working to hire Jeff Hornacek as coach May 18
- Russia bans 24 basketball players in gambling case May 13
- New Jazz uniforms include sleeved alternate jersey May 12
- Utah Jazz extend contract of coach Quin Snyder May 6
- Suns remove 'interim' tag, retain Earl Watson as coach Apr 19
- Jazz disappointed to miss playoffs, but gain experience Apr 14
- After awful season, Suns may well retain Watson as coach Apr 14
- Kobe scores 60 points in unbelievable farewell victory Apr 14
- Teletovic's 22 leads Suns past Clippers reserves, 114-105 Apr 14
- Warriors' chase, Kobe's finale highlight NBA's final night Apr 13
- Clippers-Suns Preview Apr 13