Utah Jazz Searching For Answers, Look To Break Out Of Slump Against Phoenix Suns
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – After dropping back-to-back games coming out of the NBA All-Star break, the Utah Jazz anticipate getting back on track and finding some answers to their recent struggles when they host the Phoenix Suns.
The Jazz play the Suns at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Monday, February 24.
Utah came out of the All-Star break hosting the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets in a back-to-back that opened a five-game homestand.
All-Star center Rudy Gobert and Emmanuel Mudiay were the only Jazzmen to play well against the Spurs as San Antonio took a 113-104 victory.
One night later, Utah hosted the Houston Rockets and their NBA All-Star duo of Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The dynamic duo combined for 72 points and the Jazz collapsed during the third quarter after holding a lead at halftime to fall 120-110. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points to lead Utah. The next closest scoring Jazzman was Jordan Clarkson who had 22 points off the bench.
As the Jazz close out the last 26 games of the regular season, they need more than two players to perform well in order to set themselves up for success in the postseason. Consistency is key for this team coming down the stretch and that begins with the Suns.
First Meeting With Suns
Utah is playing Phoenix for the second time this season but the first meeting was nearly four months ago.
In the fourth game of the 2019-20 campaign, the Jazz traveled to the “Valley of the Sun” on October 28, 2019, and beat the Suns 96-95 and improved to 3-1 to start the season.
Forward Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 29 points on 8-13 shooting including 4-8 from the arc. He shot 9-9 from the foul stripe. Bogdanovic filled the stat sheet with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block in 37 minutes.
Donovan Mitchell poured in 25 points on 9-24 field goals.
Rudy Gobert posted a monster jam with Phoenix big man De’Andre Ayton in the lineup. Gobert recorded a double-double of 15 points and 18 rebounds. He had a team-high plus-minus rating of +13 in the one-point win.
Utah finished the game shooting only 38.0 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from three.
Phoenix shot 41.3 percent for the game and 38.2 percent from distance.
The Suns were led by NBA All-Star Devin Booker’s 21 points on 9-16 shooting.
The Spanish Samurai Now A Sun
Former Jazzman Ricky Rubio started the game for Phoenix and posted 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists in the first game against his former team.
After a couple of seasons in Salt Lake City, Rubio signed with Phoenix during the 2019 offseason after Utah traded for point guard Mike Conley. Rubio played 145 games for the Jazz from 2017-2019. During his time with the Jazz, the guard averaged 12.9 points and 5.7 assists per contest.
Monday’s matchup will be Rubio’s first game back in Utah since leaving the Jazz.
Phoenix enters the second meeting of the season with a 23-34 overall record and is 12-16 on the road. The Suns are 1-1 since the All-Star break with a loss on the road to the Toronto Raptors and a win on the road over the Chicago Bulls.
Utah sits in fifth place in the Western Conference standings with a record of 36-20. The Jazz are 20-7 at Vivint Smart Home Arena this season.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives Utah a 78.6 percent chance to win the game.
The Suns vs. Jazz game is set to tip-off on Monday, February 24 at 7 p.m. (MDT). The game will broadcast on NBA League Pass, AT&T SportsNet, and 97.5 FM.
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