PHOENIX (AP) — The Utah Jazz are reasonably healthy, hitting shots and reasserting themselves as a Western Conference powerhouse.
Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points, Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 14 rebounds and the Jazz stayed hot with a 118-114 victory over the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
“We’ve got so much talent, it’s hard to lose when we play that way,” Gobert said.
Utah has won eight of nine to improve to 38-22. Phoenix, at 49-12, has lost back-to-back games for the first time in two months. Before the two losses, the Suns had won eight straight and 19 of 20.
Utah’s been a little inconsistent this season, but is playing well now that its deep roster is mostly healthy. Jordan Clarkson had 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting — part of the Utah second unit that played well and outscored Phoenix’s bench 43-11.
It was the second straight impressive win for the Jazz, who also beat the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. Jazz coach Quin Snyder said the team’s deep, unselfish roster allows him to be more creative with substitution patterns and allowing hot hands like Clarkson to stay on the floor in important situations.
“We’ve got a group that’s willing to accept that,” Snyder said. “… It’s really important and I think it’s unusual.”
The Jazz used a 16-3 run late in the third quarter to take a 94-89 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. It stayed tight throughout most of the final minutes but the Jazz were able to keep their lead, helped by Mitchell’s banked-in 3-pointer with 1:50 remaining that put them up 10.
The Jazz shot 17 of 40 (42.5%) from 3-point range. Mitchell made six of them.
“More than the wins, it’s our mindset,” Gobert said. “The way we’re competing defensively and the way we play together offensively, is really the thing we can take away. When we play that way, we’re going to be in good shape every night.”
Devin Booker led Phoenix with 30 points. Cameron Johnson and Deandre Ayton each added 23. Phoenix had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Jae Crowder threw the ball out of bounds.
Suns coach Monty Williams took the blame, saying it was his fault for not calling a timeout, but Crowder said the miscue was also on him.
“I have to be better at that situation,” Crowder said. “I have to know time possession, timeout situation, etc. I am the veteran on this team. I am a veteran basketball player. I should know what to do and what not to do in that situation.”
Phoenix has played its past three games without All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who broke his thumb on Feb. 16 and could be out the rest of the regular season. The Suns have a 1-2 record in those games.
The Suns rallied for a 60-56 halftime lead after trailing for much of the second quarter. Ayton had 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting before the break while Mitchell scored 11 for the Jazz.
Jazz: G Rudy Gay played Sunday after missing the previous six games with right knee soreness and a non-COVID illness. … Gobert had a season-high eight offensive rebounds. … Gobert blocked three shots.
Suns: Made 10 of their first 11 shots, scoring 24 points in the first six minutes of the first quarter. … G Aaron Holiday returned after missing one game with a sprained ankle. … Welcomed their 18th straight sellout crowd to the Footprint Center. … Phoenix lost despite shooting 51% from the field, 46% from 3-point and 81% on free throws. … Ayton was 11 of 15 from the field.
Jazz: At Houston on Wednesday night.
Suns: Host Portland on Wednesday night.