PHOENIX (ABC4 Sports) – For the better part of three months, the Utah Jazz owned the top spot in the Western Conference.
Devin Booker scored 31 points, Mikal Bridges added 18 and the Phoenix Suns blew past the Utah Jazz 121-100 on Friday night to take over the top seed in the West.
The Jazz and Suns both have identical records at 45-18, but Phoenix swept the season series over Utah and thus own the tiebreaker.
“We didn’t execute the way we wanted to,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “In games like this when certain players are not able to play, your margin for error is really small.”
The Jazz were coming off a franchise-record 154-point performance against Sacramento on Wednesday. But Utah was playing without their All-Star backcourt of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell again. Conley was out because of a tight hamstring, while Mitchell has a sprained ankle. Without them on the floor, Phoenix flourished.
Booker shot 13 of 19 from the field, hitting three step-back jumpers late in the third that brought roars from the crowd. Chris Paul added 12 points and nine assists. Deandre Ayton had 11 points and nine rebounds.
“I think our physicality wasn’t there,” said Rudy Gobert, who had eight points and ten rebounds. “Those guys are good but I feel they were a little bit too comfortable. Our offense affected our defense, too. When we turn the ball over or take a bad shot they were able to run on us. Then they get going and get confidence.”
The Jazz were led by Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 22 points. Utah has lost three of its last four games.
The Suns took a 25-point lead by midway through the second quarter when Cameron Payne’s 3-pointer made it 50-25. The Jazz managed to cut the deficit to 68-52 by halftime.
Booker led the Suns with 16 before the break, while Bridges had 13. Bogdanovic had 15 for the Jazz.
The Jazz pulled within 70-57 in the third quarter, but couldn’t get any closer. The Suns had their lead back up to 96-72 by the start of the fourth and eased to the win.
Utah now comes home to host Toronto Saturday night at 8:00 p.m.