Devin Booker drops 21, Suns bench rally falls short against Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — What started as an easy night on the court turned into another tough fourth quarter for the Utah Jazz, who blew a 19-point lead and were outscored in the period for the third straight game.
Gordon Hayward scored 28 points and the Jazz held on for a 112-105 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, their seventh win in eight games.
“It’s human nature,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “When you have some separation, sometimes it’s easier to let down. It’s something that really good teams figure out a way to overcome. I don’t think we’re there, but we did find a way tonight.”
Rudy Gobert scored a career-high 22 points and had 11 rebounds and blocked four shots for the Jazz, who recovered after the Suns erased a 23-point lead to tie it at 103.
“I’ve been working hard since I got here,” Gobert said. “I always want to improve, that’s the main thing for me. That’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
Hayward had 11 third-quarter points to reach 20-plus points for the ninth consecutive game — the first Jazz player to do so since Carlos Boozer in 2007-08.
The Jazz sprinted out to a 25-10 lead thanks to an 8-0 run and never trailed. They led 65-45 at halftime after Hayward’s pull-up 3-pointer highlighted a half-closing 11-2 stretch. The 65 points matched a Jazz season high for a half.
Devin Booker scored 21 points for the Suns, who couldn’t complete the comeback.
“That (second) unit came in and played selfless,” Suns coach Earl Watson said. “They gave up all their energy on defense and offensively they moved the ball, created the tempo and played amazing perimeter defense.”
Suns: Phoenix turned over the ball 13 times in the first half and Utah converted them into 19 points. … The Suns made six 3-pointers after hitting 10 in the previous three games.
Jazz: George Hill missed his fourth consecutive game with a sprained left big toe. … Hill and Hayward have played just five games together and the Jazz are 5-0 in those games. … Rodney Hood did not return after halftime with a sore right hamstring.
BACK ON THE BENCH
Jazz coach Quin Snyder was the latest member of the Jazz to be forced from a game due to a physical ailment. He missed Monday’s game against the Lakers due to an illness, but returned Tuesday. Snyder said it’s the first time he’s ever missed a game as an assistant or head coach in 20 years.
“It was strange,” Snyder said. “I had a small fever and then about midway through the fourth quarter, my fever jumped to over 103. So it was good I wasn’t out there. It would have been unfair to the players and the staff.”
HEY HEY, HAYWARD
Hayward is averaging career highs in points and rebounds and is playing at an All-Star level. Suns coach Earl Watson played three seasons in Utah, Hayward’s first three seasons.
“He reminded me of a young Jerry West,” Watson said. “Gordon has it, man. … I knew it, I could see it immediately. There was something special about him. The unique part about him is he can impact the game beyond scoring.
“I remember Gordon just had this unique way about him. It was his rookie year. We played the Lakers. … Gordon Hayward ran a pick-and-roll going to his left, Kobe was chasing him. Gordon jumped, lost the ball in the air, jumped off the right leg, got the ball and dunked it. I was like, ‘Oh (shoot) this kid is special.'”
Suns: Phoenix hosts a Pacers team it beat by 20 in Indiana in their last meeting on Nov. 18.