NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, March 4th (All times eastern)
Utah Jazz (38-22) at Phoenix Suns (39-24), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Western Conference powers jockeying for playoff positioning get together Thursday in the desert, as the Utah Jazz pay a visit to the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center.
Utah is fourth in the conference standings, just a half-game ahead of the Suns, and has alternated wins and losses over the previous six games. It opened a short road trip on Monday in losing fashion, dropping a 108-104 decision against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.
Carlos Boozer had 20 points and Deron Williams contributed 13 points, 13 assists and five steals for the Jazz, who failed to build on a 133-110 home win over Houston Saturday night and fell to 14-14 away from Salt Lake City. Boozer is averaging 21.8 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last five games.
"They did a great job defensively on us in the first half," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, whose squad is 1 1/2 games behind Denver for the Northwest lead. "We waited until the end of the game to show a little energy and that's the kiss of death. You can't wait until the last three minutes to play."
The Jazz are 8-3 in their last 11 road games.
Phoenix has won five straight in the desert and will open a lengthy seven-game homestand Thursday versus the Jazz, Pacers, Lakers, Hornets, Timberwolves, Jazz and Trail Blazers. The five-game win streak at home is the Suns' longest since opening the season 10-0 as the host.
The Suns, who have won 21 of their last 24 home games against the Western Conference, enter tonight's game with seven victories over the last eight contests overall, including a 127-101 blowout of the Clippers on Wednesday. Amare Stoudemire posted 15 of his game-high 30 points in the third quarter and had 14 rebounds to lead the way. He is averaging 27.0 points in his last six games for Phoenix, which held a dominating 39-18 scoring advantage in the third quarter thanks to 13-of-17 shooting from the field.
"When we shoot the ball well we're pretty good," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "We were also good defensively, especially in the third quarter."
Channing Frye added 23 points thanks to a career-high seven three-pointers, while Jason Richardson tallied 22 points in a winning effort. Grant Hill totaled 16 points and eight assists for the Suns. Richardson is averaging 19.7 points in his last seven outings.
Phoenix will try to avenge a 124-115 loss at Utah back on January 25 and has dropped nine of the last 13 matchups between the clubs.
03/04 10:26:43 ET