PHOENIX (ABC4 Sports) – Back in December, not many people would have predicted that 50 games into the season the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns would have the two best records in the NBA.
But in what was a playoff atmosphere, the Jazz and Suns played a thrilling game that went to overtime, with the Suns pulling out a dramatic 117-113 victory.
Donovan Mitchell scored 41 points to lead the Jazz, but Devin Booker scored 35 and Chris Paul added 29, as the Suns pulled within 1 1/2 games of the first place Jazz in the Western Conference.
“That was playoff basketball,” Mitchell said. “We’re not always gonna have 60-point halves. We were a few rebounds away from winning. We know what we can be,” Mitchell said. “We know we have work to do as well.”
After Mitchell tied the game at 102 with a three-pointer with ten seconds left in regulation, the Suns scored the first five points in overtime and never trailed again. Booker had a couple of clutch mid-range jumpers to keep the Jazz behind and Paul made a 3-pointer with a minute left that pushed Phoenix ahead 114-108.
Utah pulled to 114-112 on Mike Conley’s layup with 21 seconds left, but could never tie it. Paul hit two free throws with 7.8 seconds left to finally seal it and wrap up the season series with a game left. Phoenix has won seven in a row.
“It was real intense,” Booker said. “I thought both teams played hard, defended really well.”
Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 points for the Jazz, and Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 18 rebounds.
The Jazz bounced back from an 11-point halftime deficit to take a 78-77 lead going into the fourth quarter after Mike Conley rattled home a jumper at the buzzer. It was a bruising game and the Suns had a 61-45 rebounding advantage that helped them win despite a mediocre shooting night.
Utah made just 11 of 44 three-point attempts, and gave up 16 offensive rebounds. The Suns out-rebounded the Jazz, 61-45.
“We all got to get the rebounds, especially me,” said Bogdanovic. “I played more than 30 minutes with only one board. I got to be more aggressive.”
Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton added 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Utah scored just one basket in the first five minutes, giving Phoenix time to build a 13-2 lead. The Jazz recovered quickly, jumping ahead 21-20 at the end of the first quarter.
But the Suns had another push in the second, building a 51-40 halftime advantage.
The Jazz will try to avoid its first three-game losing streak of the season when they Portland Thursday night.
Comedian John Cleese, of Monty Python fame and a longtime Utah Jazz fan, saw his favorite team in person for the first time. He explained why he became a Jazz fan, saying he wanted to root against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1997 NBA Finals.