Dec. 14, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic controls the ball in the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Utah Jazz(16-17) vs. Phoenix Suns(12-21)

The Phoenix Suns began the year of 2013 by snapping their 6-game losing streak by beating the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. The Suns are hoping to continue their 2013 winning ways tonight against the Utah Jazz at the U.S Airways center in downtown Phoenix.

Coming into tonight’s game the Jazz have lost their last 5 games in Phoenix(Last win was on March 4, 2010) and Luis Scola and company will attempt to push that streak to 6. Scola has been red-hot as of late for the Suns, in his last 3 games Scola is averaging 26 points per game.

“I feel like I’m in a better rhythm. I’m playing with more confidence and I know my teammates better. It took me a little time but I’m happy with the way things are going now. I just need to keep it going,” Scola said. “There’s one thing you learn in the NBA, things change so quickly that you can never get relaxed. You need to find a way to keep doing what you’re doing.”

Heading into the game tonight the Suns are the favorite by a margin of 2.0 points according to ESPN.com. The Suns still has Jermaine O’Neal on the injured list listed as day-to-day but he is expected to play.

Sebastian Telfair is also on the injured list listed as day-to-day for the Suns after leaving Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia in the 2nd quarter with what was labeled as a sore left knee and he did not return, his status for tonight’s game is questionable; stayed tuned to Sun-N-Gun.com for updates. The Utah Jazz will be without starting point guard Mo Williams who’s been out since late December.

Keys to the game: Suns

– Feed Scola early. Luis Scola has been a beast the last 3-games and it’d be a good idea for the Suns to get him going early. In the game against Philadelphia Scola shot 1 of 6 in the first half and ended up 2 points but shot 6 of 8 in the 2nd half with 19 points. You know what they say, always give it to the hot hand.

– No lay-ups policy. The Jazz run their offense through their two big guys, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap which is reflected in the fact that those two guys are the top 2 scorers on the team. The Suns single focus tomorrow night should be to close off the painted area, and let Utah get all the jumpers they want especially since Utah will be without Mo Williams, their 2nd best 3-point shooter.

– Jump on them early. The Jazz are not a good road team and unlike a couple of season ago, road comebacks are no longer their specialty. Utah loses on the road by an average of 11.2 points so the Suns should look to attack this group early and often in order to prevent this from being one of those grind it out games that comes down to final minutes which ultimately gives the road team an opportunity to steal a win.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin said. “This is who we have and we have to figure out how we can be as good as we can with this group right now.”

Keys to the game: Jazz

– Al Jefferson. The Jazz absolutely need to get Jefferson going, Jefferson’s road numbers pales in comparison to his numbers at home, and his numbers in victories are far more significant than his numbers in losses. Safe to say that if Jefferson plays well, odds are, Utah’s chances of a victory comes that much better.

– Stay confident! Like Corbin said, the Jazz can’t feel sorry for themselves. This Jazz team has lost 7 of their last 10 games, they’ve lost their starting point guard, but this Jazz team is a good ball club with some good players and if these guys there and play they got a good chance to win. Problem is, how many of them feel that way right now?

The X-Factor

– Sebastian Telfair. It seems like a bit of a stretch to say that a back-up point guard is the potential “X-Factor” For the outcome of the game but that’s what Bassy is. His energy, hustle and nasty defense completely changes the climate of the game but there’s a good chance he’ll miss tonight’s game with knee soreness.

Match-up of the night!

– Oh it’s without a doubt Luis Scola vs. Paul Millsap. It’s the typical old age vs. new age type of match-up, in one corner you got Scola who’s a highly skilled veteran who knows all the tricks, and in the opposite corner you got Millsap who’s relatively skilled in his own right but his game is more predicated on his athleticism. Scola has been on a tear the last 3 games but as always Millsap is quietly having another nice season with Utah. Scola may not be able to jump and run the way Millsap does but Scola is going to make the young fella work.

Tags: NBA Phoenix Suns Utah Jazz

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