PHOENIX (AP) — Undersized without depth in the middle to match up with the Utah Jazz’s size, the Phoenix Suns turned to some outside sharpshooting to get an important win.
Gerald Green came off the bench to score all 24 of his points in three quarters, leading the Suns to an 87-85 win on Saturday night.
Green didn’t play in the first quarter, scored 10 points in the second and caught fire in the fourth with 10 more. He made 10 of 17 shots including three 3-pointers.
“We needed the shooting, and that’s what Gerald provided,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said.
“It’s unbelievable,” Suns guard Eric Bledsoe said of Green’s scoring bursts. “Sometimes you get caught up in the moment just watching.”
The Suns, burned at the very end of a number of close games this season, had to hang on until the final buzzer, when Rodney Hood missed a shot to tie in the closing seconds and was called for an offensive foul to end the game.
“One or two more plays and I think we could have pulled this one out,” Hood said.
Bledsoe added 16 points, including a key free throw with 16 seconds left, and the Suns put an end to a five-game losing skid, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive with New Orleans’ loss at Portland.
Gordon Hayward scored 12 his 21 points in the fourth quarter for the Jazz, who were on a three-game winning streak. Hood returned from missing two games with a concussion and scored 17 points.
“Gordon … he was having a rough night, but he really picked his game up and started going to the rim,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said.
The Suns were without starting center Alex Len to counter Jazz big men Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, who combined to 22 points and 22 rebounds.
The Suns went ahead 80-76 on P.J. Tucker’s baseline three with 6:06 to play, but Hayward scored the next seven Jazz points to make it a one-point Suns lead, 84-83, with 2:39 left.
Hayward lost a chance to give the Jazz the lead when he missed a stepback jumper with 18 seconds left, and the ball went out of bounds to the Suns.
The Suns saw a 13-point lead early in the third quarter evaporate, as Utah held a 68-65 advantage going into the fourth.
Brandan Wright dunked for a 54-41 lead at the 9:17 mark. But the Jazz cut the lead to one, 59-58, on a pair of Gobert free throws with 4:13 left.
“We’re an undersized team but we fought back,” Wright said. “We’ll see what happens these last five games and finish up strong.”
Both teams and the crowd observed a moment of silence in honor of the late “Hot Rod” Hundley, who died on March 27 in his Phoenix-area home. Hundley spent 35 years as the voice of the New Orleans/Utah Jazz on radio, and before that was a broadcaster for the Suns for four years.
Jazz: G Trey Burke did not play due to a sore lower back … Jazz coach Quin Snyder was glad to see Hood back in action after his concussion. “He’s had some tough luck with injuries,” Snyder said. “It’s good to see him be able to come back and play, and hopefully play the rest of the season.” … A group of six fans seated a few rows from courtside wore old purple Jazz jerseys, with one of the six dressed in a suit and tie and holding a clipboard. They pretended to huddle during timeouts.
Suns: G Brandon Knight missed Saturday’s game with a sprained left ankle, the 11th game in the Suns’ last 12 that he’s been unable to play … C Alex Len will be re-evaluated next week after surgery on Thursday to repair his broken nose. Len was injured against Portland on March 30.
Jazz: At Sacramento on Sunday.
Suns: At Atlanta on Tuesday.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.