Jazz get 11th-straight win

Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale dunks the ball against the Phoenix Suns in the first half during an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY – Jazz rookies Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale combined for 43 points as Utah beat Phoenix 107-97 for its 11th-straight win Wednesday night.

Mitchell’s 24 points and seven assists were both team highs, while O’Neale reached a career-high 19 points. Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors each recorded double-doubles in the points and rebounds categories.

“It’s been great,” Favors said of the streak, which is the league’s longest. “We’re working great, playing as a team, guys are stepping up.”

Utah was able to build leads of 10, nine and eight points at separate points through the first three quarters, but Phoenix, behind Devin Booker and Josh Jackson, were able to respond and tie the game or take the lead each time.

“We knew this would be a difficult game,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “Devin Booker had been out. Elfrid Payton just joined the team. They competed and they’re a young team and energetic and played hard.”

Phoenix was aiming for another lead late in the game when an Elfrid Payton pullup 3-pointer trimmed the Jazz lead to 98-95 with 2:41 left, but newly-acquired Jazzman Jae Crowder responded with back-to-back layups to push the Jazz lead to 102-95. After a pair of Booker free throws, Utah’s dagger came in the form of a Mitchell turnaround trey off an inbound pass.

“I just treated it like a regular shot,” Mitchell said. “I missed a bunch of threes before that, but if you start to think that way that is when you start to doubt yourself.”

The shot put Utah up eight with less than a minute remaining.

Booker led all scorers with 28 points while Jackson had 22. Payton recorded a triple-double with 13 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds.

“(Booker) is somebody that can score,” Payton said. “Score in bunches.”

The Suns took a timeout after falling behind 16-6 less than five minutes into the game, but went on a 11-2 run cut the deficit to a single point. The Jazz still led through the remainder of the quarter, but Phoenix stayed within striking distance until its 8-2 run early in the second quarter resulted in a 31-29 lead.

Back-to-back treys from Joe Ingles and O’Neale later in the quarter put the Jazz back on top. The lead was extended when a half-court alley-oop from Mitchell to O’Neale sparked an 8-2 run to close out the half. The Jazz took a 50-41 lead into the locker room.

The Suns made another run at the Jazz early in the second half. Within the first 3:29, Booker hit three 3-pointers and Dragan Bender added another. Utah was able to get four points from a pair of Gobert dunks during the stretch, but an Alex Len basket gave Phoenix a 55-54 lead, its first lead of the second half. The Jazz were able to retake the lead and build an eight-point advantage, but once again lost it when Phoenix went carried an 11-2 run into the fourth quarter.

The Jazz took the lead for the last time when Crowder was fouled from beyond the arc. He made all three free throws then completed an and-1 play the next time down the court.

“Guys started hitting shots,” Favors said. “(Crowder) did a good job of getting in there and playing with energy, cuts to the basket and hitting shots.”

The Jazz will now have more than a week off because of the All-Star break.

“It would be nice to keep the momentum going,” O’Neale said. “But the break will be good for us. Everybody will come back healthy and refreshed.”

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