The pleasant weather the Jazz enjoyed Friday in Arizona must have helped them heat up on the court.
Then again, the 60-plus degree weather in Phoenix didn't really improve a cool 40 percent Utah shooting effort. Regardless, the Jazz defeated the Suns going away.
GUARDS: Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson said they could lead Utah to success while starter Mo Williams is sidelined. (Following surgery, the 10th-year player is out at least six weeks.) Though the Jazz were just 2-3 without Williams heading into Friday's matchup, Tinsley (5 assists, 3 rebounds and just 1 turnover in 20 minutes) and Watson (8 assists and 2 turnovers in just 19 minutes) proved how they could perform without their star — for at least one night. Fifth-year Phoenix point guard Goran Dragic was harmful offensively (17 points on 8-of-16 shooting), but his six assists came at the cost of three turnovers.
Randy Foye (13 points on 6-of-10 shooting) was great offensively, though Jared Dudley (16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) nearly matched him. But Foye won the battle given Dudley's six turnovers. And Foye did nearly the same scoring damage in nine less minutes. Perhaps it's a wonder that Foye didn't play more. However, backup swingman Gordon Hayward (14 points on 7-of-15 shooting in more time than Foye) came around in the fourth quarter with two key makes as his team led by only a few possessions. GRADE: B-.
FORWARDS: Like former Jazzman Andrei Kirilenko is known to do, Paul Millsap (19 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals) filled the box score Friday. Too bad Marvin Williams (scoreless on 0-of-3 shooting, 2 steals, 2 turnovers) hardly did the same. At least P.J. Tucker, who sucker punched the Jazz the last time they were in Phoenix, matched Williams, as Luis Scola (15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks) nearly equaled Millsap.
Utah got the upper hand in this position since Derrick Favors (10 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal) was terribly effective in more time than Williams. Corbin was refreshing in shifting his lineup and playing Favors 31 minutes — more than 150 percent of the player he backs up. That might not remain, however, when big man Enes Kanter re-enters the lineup. GRADE: B-.
CENTERS: While Al Jefferson (21 points on 8-of-17 shooting, 8 rebounds) was fair, Phoenix's Martin Gortat (18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, 11 rebounds) was more effective. Big Al has scored 21-plus points in 3 of the past 4 contests after experiencing five straight with 18 or less. However, Gortat scored that much just once in 15 games — and averaged just 11.3 points per game — heading into Friday. GRADE: C-.
BENCH: Credit the Jazz bench for outscoring the Suns' reserves 32-14. Favors and Hayward led the way. For all the 'Free Alec Burks' talk going around Jazzland, the second-year player shot just 2 of 7 in 21 minutes while Phoenix backup guard Sebastian Telfair (10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 2 of 4 from distance) shined. This half of the Utah roster also committed just four turnovers. GRADE: A-.
OVERALL: Both clubs were far from perfect, though they weren't so bad when they actually managed to shoot (both teams shot 45 percent overall). What blinded the Suns — and credit the Jazz for active defensive play — was their 21 turnovers. Certainly, Corbin can live with a dozen turnovers per game. Though Phoenix isn't solid, a win over that squad is exactly what the Jazz needed in order to bolster momentum on the road — and in general, for that matter. GRADE: B-.
Rhett Wilkinson is a senior in communications and politics at Utah State University and the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's student magazine. A Deseret News editorial intern, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wilklogan
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