Off-Key Jazz Silenced by the Suns, 126-98IF the Suns can play like this during the NBA's postseason marathon then they will win the 2006-07 NBA title. That's a big "if," which is why I capitalized both letters. I still don't believe that it will happen--but the Utah Jazz might have been convinced after the Suns blasted them 126-98 on Utah's home court. Utah had won the previous three meetings between the teams this season but the Suns jumped on the Jazz right from the start on Saturday night, taking leads of 6-0 and 13-1. The Suns went up by as much as 15 before the Jazz pulled within five points with 8:12 left in the second quarter. People who claim to have been abducted by UFOs speak of unexplained missing blocks of time; I think that is what happened next in this game, because the score went from 36-31 to 68-44 faster than you can ask, "Is Phoenix this good or is Utah this bad?" (it actually took a little less than eight minutes to happen but I don't think that we can completely rule out the idea that aliens did something to the Jazz and/or the space-time continuum during this game)
Leandro Barbosa led the Suns with 28 points, while Steve Nash had 13 points and 18 assists. A night after shooting horribly versus the Lakers, the Suns connected at a .524 rate (43-82) from the field. Mehmet Okur had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz. On Friday night, the Jazz beat the league-leading Dallas Mavericks 104-89 in Dallas but prior to that the Jazz had just lost five straight games. They are battling with the Houston Rockets for home court advantage in their first round series, so they should hardly have been complacent about facing the Suns at home. Like the Jazz, the Suns were playing the second game of a back to back after winning the first game.
The way to beat the Suns is to pound the ball inside on offense and shut down the Suns' three point shooters. Granted, this is easier said than done, but Utah failed pretty miserably on both counts, not establishing an inside game until the Suns had a big lead and letting the Suns shoot 10-23 (.435) from three point range. The Suns also shot 30-31 (.968) from the free throw line. Jazz announcer Ron Boone, broadcasting the game for NBA TV, kept insisting that Utah would make a run and get back in the game but the Jazz never cut the margin to less than 19 in the second half. The Suns need one victory or one San Antonio loss to clinch the second seed in the Western Conference.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:26 AM