Once again, the Utah Jazz proved there is no place like home. After Friday’s loss dropped them to 0-4 on the road, Saturday’s 94-81 victory over the Phoenix Suns upped their perfect home record to 3-0.
Despite seeing what was once a dominant 22-point lead dwindle to a very tenuous five in the fourth quarter, Utah held on in the end, thanks to some clutch plays by Jazz veterans Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and fill-in starter Jamaal Tinsley.
Welcome back Al: Entering the game, Jefferson was averaging just 11.8 points per game on 40.3-percent shooting, placing him just fifth on the team in scoring. Naturally, Saturday’s stellar performance by the center was a welcome sight.
In 37 minutes, Jefferson connected on 12-of-20 shots — 60 percent. His 27 points came on a variety of nifty inside moves and smooth outside marksmanship. As mentioned, he was a smooth operator down the stretch, hitting some crucial shots.
He continued to excel on the boards, snaring 14 caroms. Jefferson came in the contest seventh in the NBA in rebounding. He also added two blocked shots
Areas of strength: There were many areas that helped propel the Utah win. Among them:
- Utah used its height advantage over Phoenix, winning the rebounding battle 50-37. Along with Jefferson’s tally, Paul Millsap added 13 rebounds, and Marvin Williams (seven) and Derrick Favors (six) also contributed.
- Stepping up in Mo Williams’ absence, the venerable Tinsley played a great floor game. His 14 assists, 10 of which came in the first half, were integral, especially compared to just two turnovers.
- Jazz starters accounted for 76 of the total 94 points, an even more impressive stat when Tinsley’s scoreless night is factored in.
- While things slipped in the fourth, Utah held Phoenix to 36.8-percent shooting, as well as just 4 of 16 on 3-pointers.
- After showing much improvement, 12 of Utah’s 14 attempts from downtown proved errant.
- The Jazz only hit 16 of 24 free throw attempts.
- Utah coughed up the ball 18 times, with 12 of them coming off Phoenix steals.
- Despite Tinsley’s valiant effort, he combined with back-up Randy Foye to go 0-10 from the floor.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.