No one's pretending that the Suns (23-49) are a good team this season. Wednesday night, the Jazz (36-36) didn't, using a strong first quarter to shade their opponent 103-88.
GUARDS: Mo Williams (eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, 10 assists) dished double-digit assists for the first time in 19 games, but was matched by rookie guard Kendall Marshall (seven points on 2-of-7 shooting, 13 assists), whose 34 minutes were more than 250 percent his per-game average of 12.9.
By shooting 5 of 6 and making both of his 3-point attempts, Randy Foye can be considered out of a slump. He has now made 18 of his last 29 baskets after going just 10 of 48 over the seven previous games. But Phoenix guard Wesley Johnson (22 points) certainly fared better than average, with a 6.4 points-per-game rate entering Wednesday night. GRADE: B-.
FORWARDS: Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward (37 points on 15-of-24 shooting, nine rebounds, eight assists, 65 minutes) collectively dominated Sun forwards Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker (14 points on 5-of-13 shooting, 12 rebounds, six assists, 57 minutes).
Millsap has made 60 percent or better of his field goal attempts in four of his past five games, all of which he took at least eight attempts. After tallying six assists Wednesday, Hayward has tallied three or more assists in eight of the past nine games. GRADE: A-.
CENTERS: Al Jefferson (25 points on 12-of-23 shooting, nine rebounds) and Luis Scola (19 points on 8-of-15 shooting, six rebounds) nullified each other, considering that the former Houston star saw nine less minutes. The difference, then, lied with Phoenix big men Jermaine O'Neal (three points, four rebounds, 16 minutes), whose 1-of-7 shooting made him a liability.
Big Al has shot 50 percent or better from the field in three straight games after shooting 39 percent or worse in four of the previous seven games, all of which have included at least nine field goal attempts. Either way, this is a game in which coach Tyrone Corbin could have afforded to give backup Enes Kanter, playing well in recent weeks, more experience. GRADE: B.
BENCH: The Jazz bench was outscored by the Sun reserves 25-21, though it was of little consequence given the dominance of the Utah starters. Derrick Favors tallied 13 rebounds and two blocks in just half the game, though his five turnovers are probably one of those factors that has kept Corbin from letting him see more time. Alec Burks and Marvin Williams were each mediocre at best in 20 and 22 minutes, respectively. GRADE: C+.
OVERALL: Phoenix is not a good team, but since the Jazz are still just 10-27 on the road, it was a great win for them. No one can be upset with a 52 percent shooting effort when the opponent was held to a respectable 45 percent. Beating this sorry team was certainly a must-do for a team one game out of the playoff picture. GRADE: B+.
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University. Co-founder of Aggie BluePrint (USU's first student magazine) and a two-time Deseret News intern, he now interns for Deseret Book's LDS Living. firstname.lastname@example.org or @wilklogan