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Utah Jazz report card: Jazz heat up in warm Phoeniz, dump Suns

Published: Friday, Jan. 4 2013 9:30 p.m. MST

Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) fouls Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola, of Argentina, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Phoenix. The Jazz won 87-80. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Associated Press) Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) fouls Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola, of Argentina, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Phoenix. The Jazz won 87-80. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Associated Press)

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.

Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) fouls Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola, of Argentina, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Phoenix. The Jazz won 87-80. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Associated Press) Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) fouls Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola, of Argentina, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Phoenix. The Jazz won 87-80. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Associated Press)

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.

Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4), of Poland, is fouled by Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors (15) as Paul Millsap (24) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Phoenix. The Jazz won 87-80. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Associated Press) Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4), of Poland, is fouled by Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors (15) as Paul Millsap (24) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Phoenix. The Jazz won 87-80. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Associated Press)

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-.

Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4), of Poland, is fouled by Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors (15) as Paul Millsap (24) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Phoenix. The Jazz won 87-80. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Associated Press) Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4), of Poland, is fouled by Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors (15) as Paul Millsap (24) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Phoenix. The Jazz won 87-80. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Associated Press)

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 rhett.wilkinson@usu.edu or on Twitter @wilklogan

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