SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Without its two best players, the Utah Jazz once again did not have enough firepower to take down the top team in the NBA.
With Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert on the sideline again, Devin Booker torched the Jazz for 43 points and a career-high 12 points in a 105-97 win at Vivint Arena Wednesday night.
Chris Paul scored 15 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Suns extended their winning streak to eight straight. The Jazz have lost 9 of its last 11 games.
Booker paced the Suns through three quarters, but didn’t get a shot in the fourth until he missed a runner with 3:45 to play. But Paul took over the offensive burden with his mid-range jumpers and drives to the basket.
“We’re playing without Rudy and Donovan right now,” said head coach Quin Snyder. “But it doesn’t mean we can’t run back. .This is about committing to the things consistently that allow you to grow.”
The Jazz trailed 98-94 when Hassan Whiteside committed an offensive foul and a technical. Booker made two technical free throws around a jumper that beat the shot clock to give the Suns the cushion they needed.
Playing shorthanded once again, the Jazz got a boost from Jordan Clarkson, who scored 16 of his team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter. Whiteside had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Mike Conley also scored 16 points and added 10 assists for the Jazz, who dropped their ninth game in the last 11.
The Suns were also missing two starters in Jae Crowder (wrist) and Deandre Ayton (ankle), but Bismack Biyombo had 12 points in his first start of the season.
“We’re just trying to find our way. Regardless of the losses, I think we’re heading in the right direction as far as staying connected,” Conley said, despite Utah’s worst stretch of the season.
Early on, the Suns simply outhustled and outran the Jazz, turning turnovers and missed shots into easy points in transition. Booker, with 21 points, outscored the Jazz by himself in the first quarter and the Suns blocked five shots on their way to a 39-18 lead after one period.
In a sudden and complete reversal, the Jazz outscored the Suns 30-11 in the second quarter as Clarkson scored 10 and Joe Ingles hit a fadeaway 3-pointer to bring the Jazz within 50-48 at the half.
Booker had 26 in the first half — a season high for the Suns — but they collectively went 5 for 17 in the second period.
It took 35 field goal attempts on Monday to score 33 points, but he was far more efficient this time around, going 16 for 28 and adding nine free throws. Booker became the Suns’ career leader in games scoring 40 or more points with 16.
The Suns’ top-ranked defense frustrated the Jazz until Clarkson started hitting some perimeter shots.
The same teams played a tight one Monday with Phoenix prevailing over an extremely short-handed Jazz team, 115-109. Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale and Joe Ingles sat out in Phoenix, but returned for Wednesday’s rematch.
The Jazz next play at Memphis Friday night at 6:00 p.m.