PHOENIX (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz retuned to their winning ways, and moved up a spot in the Western Conference standings.
Donovan Mitchell scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half, while Rudy Gobert added 18 points and 20 rebounds, as the Jazz ended a 2-game slide with a 114-97 win at Phoenix.
Derrick Favors scored 18 points, while Joe Ingles scored all 15 of his points in h second half, as the Jazz moved into a tie with the Los Angeles Clippers for the seventh playoff seed in the Western Conference.
“It was a great way to come in and get a win,” Gobert said. “We knew we were going to have to play great defense, and we did.”
The Jazz held the Suns to just 44 percent shooting and forced 12 Phoenix turnovers.
“I think we knew how important transition defense would be,” head coach Quin Snyder said. “We attacked late with efficiency and were able to hit some shots. But the defense for us is where the emphasis is, and we saw more focus and more urgency on that end tonight.”
Devin Booker’s 27 points led the Suns, who came back from 14 down in the third quarter to tie the score but couldn’t push past the Jazz in the fourth. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 18 points and Tyler Johnson had 15 for the Suns, who had won four of five.
Utah led by 21 in the fourth quarter, pulling away after Phoenix tied it at 75 late in the third. Mitchell hit a 3-pointer with 2:57 left to make it 105-89.
The Jazz dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Suns, 52-35 and had 12 second chance points compared to just two for Phoenix.
Ricky Rubio returned to the Jazz after missing two games with left hip tightness. He played 22 minutes and had six points and four assists. Raul Neto also returned from a 6-game absence and had five assists. In his second game back after missing the previous 25, Dante Exum had 2 assists.
“It’s good to have point guards to play basketball,” Gobert joked. “They have to take their time. Injuries is never easy to deal with, so it’s great to have them back.”
“It’s awesome to have everybody back and healthy,” said Mitchell, who made 10 of 18 shots, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. “It gives Joe [Ingles] and me to get a little bit of a break, and it allows Ricky, Dante and Raul to make plays.”
All three of Gobert’s field goals in the first quarter were dunks, and with 52 seconds left in the period he delivered a look-away bounce pass to Jae Crowder for a layup.
The Suns led by four in the second, but the Jazz surged ahead with a 9-0 run. Another dunk by Gobert off a lob from Rubio made it 48-41 with 1:54 left in the first half.
Mitchell’s 3 with 21 seconds remaining made it 53-41, and the Jazz led by 10 at halftime. Gobert had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
Utah went ahead by 14 early in the third quarter, but the Suns put together a 12-2 run to make it 59-55 with 8:29 to go.
The crowd was buzzing even two possessions after Suns big man Richaun Holmes threw down a windmill dunk with his left hand with 3:39 to go in the third, cutting the Jazz lead to 72-66.
A pair of free throws by Booker tied it at 75 with 30 seconds left. Joe Ingles hit a 3 out of the corner for a 78-75 lead for the Jazz at the end of three quarters.
“I tihnk defensively, we were locked in,” Mitchell said. “That’s really what carries us when we get stops and we get out in transition.”
The Jazz return home to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.