Preview: Utah Jazz (16-17) at Phoenix Suns (12-21)

Posted by on January 4th, 11:32 am

Utah Jazz 87, Phoenix Suns 80

Jazz

Jazz

Suns

Suns

PHOENIX — Veteran Luis Scola spent no time reveling in the Phoenix Suns’ win against Philadelphia that broke a six-game losing streak. He was glad the Suns had shown they were capable of fixing a number of issues, but until those lessons become more than a short-term memory, he warned that Phoenix will see more losses than wins.

And ever the optimist, head coach Alvin Gentry said there was a lot of belief to lean on – Phoenix has played in an NBA-leading nine games that have been decided by three points or fewer.

“We don’t have anything tangible to show for that,” Gentry said of the team’s crunch-time problems before the win against the Sixers. “I like the shots that we’re getting. That’s the thing that’s most discouraging.”

The Suns are 4-6 in their last 10 games — though they lost those six in a row — and on Friday night host a struggling Utah Jazz (16-17) team that has gone 3-7 over its last 10. The four-game difference between the two teams? Their road records, which is 6-13 for Utah and 2-14 for Phoenix. Both teams have 10 wins at home.

And maybe that’s simply because the Suns are, though not in age, young in experience. Scola’s warning after the latest win is one that could be mailed out to most youthful teams, and whether his teammates are listening could become evident in the friendly confines of U.S. Airways Center against Utah.

Phoenix beat Utah on Dec. 14 thanks to a spirited performance from center Marcin Gortat, who had the edge against Jazz center Al Jefferson. He even took a friendly jab at his opponent, commenting on how “Big Al”, as he called him, couldn’t run with him for an entire game.

For Gortat and the Suns, consistency will be tested as Utah attempts to break out of a slump.

Three keys for the Suns

Attack with Goran Dragic. Against Philly’s Jrue Holiday, Dragic looked like he took a matchup with a talented point guard as a time to showcase his competitive toughness. The two went at one another, and it was easy to say Dragic won the battle despite Holiday posting a triple-double. Phoenix hasn’t seen that same aggressiveness from Dragic in every game. The same type of play could be huge against old man Jamaal Tinsley, who is recognizing that he needs to make the hockey assists because of his age, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Tinsley is starting for Mo Williams, who will be out for a while recovering from thumb surgery.

Exploit the mismatches. The Jazz are one of the few teams that Phoenix can beat up and down the floor, even if they go with a big lineup, and getting in transition during the first half is especially important for Gortat to wear on Jefferson. While that could hurt Scola’s activity, he’s shown that he’s more of a scorer in spurts anyway. And depending on the Suns’ starting lineup, there are a number of mismatches to take advantage of, especially in the backcourt.

Get O’Neal going. Jermaine O’Neal will likely get some solid minutes against the Jazz, who will have at least three legitimate big men available (backup center Enes Kanter was doubtful as of yesterday). He’s struggled of late with frustrating turnovers, mostly. The Suns must put O’Neal in a position to at the very least stick on the court for defensive purposes. And if they continue to run the offense through him in the post, it’s imperative for Phoenix that O’Neal takes care of the ball.

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

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Tags: Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Preview · Utah Jazz

71 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Harry // Jan 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Last optimist here. Suns favored by 1.5 tonight. This is a almost a must win if the Suns are to stay in the playoff hunt.

    For those confused about what it will take to make the playoffs this year, the best current estimate is 42 wins, not the 47 offered up as an historical norm. The Suns will need to go 30-19 to get there. A stretch, certainly, given their start, but now that Tuck is in the starting line-up, things have changed.

    Kevin, your point one is actually not only the key to this game, but the key to the season. The Suns are currently only 12th in pace. Why Alvin?

    Looking for a comfortable win. No movie reviews. Watch the game.

  • 2 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    I believe the newly set lineup and 1 or 2 fill-in acquisitions could indeed get us to the playoffs.

    An I would be very willing to part with any rotation player other than Tucker, O’Neal and Dragic to get it done.

  • 3 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I wish people would lay off Alvin. For a guy who has 5 completely useless pieces and 1 or 2 erratic ones, he’s doing a great job.

  • 4 Luka // Jan 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Gentry won’t be back next season.

  • 5 Forever is2long // Jan 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Gentry isn’t the issue gang. In fact if blame has to be casted outside of the players, try pointing the finger at Blanks and Babby. They have done very little if anything to improve this team. Babby bragged in the summer how the Suns are really good in drafting players but yet neither lottery picks Morris nor Marshall have shown to be NBA starting material. There is no way Marshall should have been a lottery selection as he looks terrible. He wasn’t even impressive in the DLeague. If a hack like me knew before the draft not to select Marshall, Babby and Blanks should have certainly known better.
    So while there are better coaches than Gentry he is not the problem. If he is made the scapegoat then shame on the Suns.

  • 6 Luka // Jan 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    @Forever Is2Long

    I feel that Sarver will make Gentry the scapegoat. Management is delusional in thinking this roster is playoff caliber.

  • 7 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    @Luka, so are you a tow truck driver or a do you work at Burger King?

  • 8 Luka // Jan 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I’m self-employed.

  • 9 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Oops, didn’t mean to insult the tow truck drivers and fast food workers by THAT comparison!

  • 10 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    @Luka, well, if that is your thinking, I may agree with you and I withdraw my comment. But you haven’t really been saying it that way on this board up to now.

  • 11 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    The Jazz are not a pushover team by any means ! I think the 1.5 is just home court advantage. They could easily beat us.

    Especially considering our loyal fans.

    No use wearing rose-colored glasses.

  • 12 Polish_fan // Jan 4, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    we will see if that one win was occasional or we can count on some bonuses and other wins.

  • 13 Luka // Jan 4, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    BREAKING NEWS: Michael Beasley traded to Fuddruckers for jalapeno cheese pump.

  • 14 Polish_fan // Jan 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    they should trade for Rondo lol

  • 15 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    @Polish _fan: recall we were the team that drafted him, LOL.

  • 16 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I hope they try O’Neal and Gortat on the floor for at least a few minutes if
    the Jazz try to go big on us.

  • 17 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I consider them having Favors and two other big men at the same time, or playing Gordon Hayward at the #2, is them trying to go excessively big on us.

  • 18 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Maybe we should put Bease at the #2 if the put Hayward at the #2, LOL.

  • 19 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Speaking of the Bease, my attitude toward him as posted on this board probably should be clarified.

    He’s done nothing unforgivable. He’s probably a good guy.

    He’s just made himself too much of a net liability for the time being, and by the time one gets this far into the season, it gets to a point where it can be overlooked.

    I believe Alvin likes him and is hopeful for him. I just think Alvin has risked the W/L record as far as he’s willing to for the time being on that experiment.

  • 20 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Within his firs 6 minutes in the game tonight, Morris had 2 personals and 2 turnovers, and was 1 of 3 shooting.

    Obviously someone on the Jazz watched some Suns game film.

    He sometimes makes Beasley look good. In fact, with stats like that, I don’t think we can afford to trade Beasley away.

  • 21 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Please fill me in on this, do our second unit players participate in a pre-game shoot-around at all?

  • 22 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Ha anyone filled Telfair in on the fact that he is the Point Guard and that Brown is the “Shooting Guard”?

    Maybe Scola should play Point Guard on the second unit, he gets a lot of assists.

  • 23 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I would love to see Gentry do a riff like Iverson (“How am I supposed to make my teammates better by practicing ????”)

    “How am I supposed to make these guys better by coaching?”

    Its an extremely valid question that needs answering as regards our second unit players.

  • 24 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    We have problems with AllJeff? OK.

    We can’t guard RANDY FOYE ??????????????

    JESUS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 25 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I’m not viewing the game, just following it on line, but based on what I see, “Randy Foye just got hot” should NOT be an excuse we hear from Gentry, Dudley, or anyone else tonight.

  • 26 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    81-66 at home @ the six minute mark?

    Time to rest Dragic, Scola and Dudley and with Morris at 1/7, take him out of the game for the duration lest his trade value be ruined.

  • 27 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Time to put Marshall, Garrett and Zeller in.

    And time to take Telfair out lest whatever trade value he MAY have
    be further diminished.

  • 28 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    And I should be referring to Brown as an “Off Guard” rather than a “Shooting Guard.”

  • 29 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    And you’re telling me this is GENTRY’S fault?

    I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn for you at a great price !

  • 30 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Comment as to Telfair goes for Brown as well.

  • 31 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    No wonder Sarver doesn’t want to invest in players.

    The man didn’t get rich by being an idiot.

  • 32 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I would trade Morris, Brown and Telfair for Jamison, Meeks and Duhon this very instant. I would keep Beasley rather than Telfair. If the Lakers said no we want Beasley not Morris, I would not do the deal.

  • 33 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Meant to say would keep beasley rather than Morris. I’m as dumb as Morris sometimes.

  • 34 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    An offer Utah can’t refuse: Morris and $10 million for Millsap.

  • 35 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Dragic, Scola, Dudley and Gortat should each ask for an unconditional release. Everyone else should be traded to the Washington Generals.

  • 36 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Everyone else except Tucker. He should be given an unconditional release plus $250,000 for his pain and suffering having to play with the members of this crew other than Gortat, Dragic, Dudley and Scola.

  • 37 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    After tonight, no one on this board should EVER, EVER say the Lakers do not have a bench.

  • 38 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    And the Clippers only beat us by 24????

    They MUST have been coasting that night !!!!!

  • 39 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    How do you induce laughter in a player of All-Star caliber?

    Just mention the Suns.

  • 40 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    I can HARDLY WAIT to hear the excuses in the post-game.

  • 41 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    If I were Sarver, I would truly have no clue what to do !

    If he is in a catatonic state of inaction, I can’t blame him and i feel sorry for him.

  • 42 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Can someone answer a legal question for me?

    How can someone be in the Players Union if he is not NBA caliber?

  • 43 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Ole !!

    That’s all the Spanish I need to know !!!!

  • 44 jones // Jan 4, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Gentry is pissing away the season.

    I know a lot of people just like to blame Beasley, but honestly if Gentry thought he was going to do anything with this season he was sorely mistaken.

    There is no way we’re going to beat any team making the playoffs let alone be contenders.

    These veterans he keeps giving heavy minutes to have already peaked.

    Instead of making something valuable out of the season by developing Marshall, Morris, Wes and Beasley, all of whom could potentially be far superior players to the current veterans, we’re just losing the same games any way with our veterans and not developing our younger players.

    Give Marshall, Morris, Wes and Beasley 40minutes a game and develop them. The upside is far better to this trash of losing the same games with players that have gone over their peaks right now. These veterans we got aren’t better than the veterans (Nash/Hill) we let go!

  • 45 Jerry // Jan 4, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Gortat is by far the best player on this team. Ten times better than second best player in the team. Second best player in this decade after this Steve Nash. Those who critisize him are bunch of ignorants who should switch their TV to “Kardashians”

  • 46 SHAZAM // Jan 4, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    @ bill…i beg you..please condense your comments in to one or 2 long comments….this impulsive tick tick tick of inane crap is driving everyone crazy…conscious stream of thought prose worked for the beat writers like keourac and burrooughs ..its not your strong suit…ive never asked anyone to get the f uck out of here before and im still not but you are ruining this site…STOP IT…make a commitment to yourself to never post after 2 beers…show you have some discipline in you….prove it…we all want you to succeed…if you cant then PLEASE seek help

  • 47 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Allstate should do a new series of TV commercials around the concept of “Mayhem”.

    It should star tonight’s second unit players (ex-Beasley).

  • 48 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    As a matter of fact, maybe I could get an arranger’s fee off something like that.

  • 49 DBreezy // Jan 4, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Amar’e is easily the second best player the Suns had this decade. This team has only made the playoffs without him once since he came in 2002. As I watch some of the buffoonery Dwight Howard is doing in this game I wonder if Steve misses him. Dwight catching anything other than a lob is interesting to watch.

  • 50 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    @ Shazam: Some of this is actually pretty creative stuff. Would you rather I just post once daily claiming Gentry is most of the problem?

  • 51 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    @Shazam: At most I think I should be penalized 15 yards for piling on.

  • 52 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    @Dbreezy: I can understand Howard’s problem. He does have gaps in his skills, but if a steamroller bulldozed him, he’d get called for a foul.

  • 53 Jerry // Jan 4, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    this decade he didnt play single game for the suns…

  • 54 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    @Dbreezy: Did you see the interesting article on Yahoo today or yesterday
    where Amare’s lack of development as a defensive player is discussed?

  • 55 bill.thomas // Jan 4, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Jerry, you’re right on a technicality, LOL.

  • 56 bill.thomas // Jan 5, 2013 at 12:37 am

    @Dbreezy: Dwight is gonna be goin’ fishin’ real early this year,
    and your comment won’t apply to that.

  • 57 Luka // Jan 5, 2013 at 12:39 am

    What a piss poor game by the Suns. The game was lost when Gentry switched to the bench unit in the 2nd quarter. Neither team was scoring for about 6 minutes, and a 10 point early lead evaporated. Why did Gentry allow the bench to stay in so long?

    Beasley still played like a moron trying to drive head on while being defended resulting in an offensive foul. Morris as well trying to force the issue was called for a charge.

    The ball movement was non-existant. So many lazy passes, or just balls being poked away. I shut the game off when the Suns were down 17 with 3 minutes left.

    It’s over folks. The time to tank is now. As somebody suggested let Marshall, Garret and Zeller get some minutes and see what we have with them. Put Beasley down to the d-league please.

  • 58 Mikel_hAz // Jan 5, 2013 at 12:42 am

    My opinion is if were still Losing most games by Gentry uaing tucker,dudley,scola,gortat,dragic,telfair,morris then what’s the difference if we lose by playing Marshall,Johnson,Beasley??? We still lose anyway maybe Beasley or Johnson would explode n go for 30 one of those nights but guess well never no!

  • 59 @Mikel_hAz // Jan 5, 2013 at 12:49 am

    I personally wouldn’t mine seeing this lineup: starters: Telfair,dragic,Dudley,scola,gortat….bench: Marshall,brown,Johnson,Beasley,morris. N play the bech enough minutes!!! Like I said we lose anyway! Playing J.O, n Tucker n shortening the rotation with same results! Might as well get the young guys minutes n see what we have! But Gentry trying not to lose his jo

  • 60 SHAZAM // Jan 5, 2013 at 12:52 am

    @ bill your quote —–> “@ Shazam: Some of this is actually pretty creative stuff. Would you rather I just post once daily claiming Gentry is most of the problem?”…..i stuck up for you when you first arrived..figuring you would figure it out..thinking you actually have an internal filter..you dont..most of what you post is just blather that only amuses you..yes every now and then you put up something cool and creative..but no one sees it or cares because they are tired of the barrage of crap they have to go through to get to that creative nugget you post..i spelled it out simply above..so lets try a new way for you to harness your irritating impulses..just follow this simple rule…NEVER post more than 2 comments in between some one else’s comment…this will force you to compact all your genius in to fewer comments and give you time to edit some of the blather out…same amount of words just less comments…at this rate you will still be out commenting anyone else by 10-1 and we will all live with it since it has been reduced from 20-1….deal?

  • 61 Luka // Jan 5, 2013 at 12:57 am

    This line-up would work a little better for the Suns…

    C – Tim Kempton
    PF – Suns’ Gorilla
    SF – Majerle
    SG – Mr. Orng
    PG – Tom Leander

  • 62 SHAZAM // Jan 5, 2013 at 12:59 am

    bwahahahaha best post of the year luka

  • 63 bill.thomas // Jan 5, 2013 at 1:08 am

    @Shazam: Please don’t make me review your historical posts and post a compendium of them here.

    Peeps in glass houses are in no position to throw stones.

  • 64 bill.thomas // Jan 5, 2013 at 1:11 am

    @Shazam: Oops I goofed…you’re actually my mom and I didn’t figure it out.

    Sorry, mom.

  • 65 DBreezy // Jan 5, 2013 at 1:17 am

    @Jerry,

    Good point on a technicality as Bill Nelson said! Reading is fundamental.

    @Bill Nelson

    Yeah I saw that article on yahoo. Howard is tough to watch this season, even more so than usual because he isn’t the most fluid offensive player outside of lobs and putbacks. You hope it’s just the recovery from the back surgery, but his defense is pretty bad this season regardless of who’s on the sidelines. Out of position, not elevating, little aggression for dirty boards, etc. No way CP3 tries some of those tight lobs with the old Dwight in the neighborhood. He probably will go fishing early than planned this year, but I still think they make the playoffs.

  • 66 bill.thomas // Jan 5, 2013 at 1:21 am

    @Shazam: that post No. 62 was brilliantly intelligent. Have you considered going into public school Junior High School teaching?

    You would have a lot of parents running for the charter schools.

  • 67 bill.thomas // Jan 5, 2013 at 1:28 am

    @DBreezy: I haven’t had much chance to watch Howard this season. I think D’Antoni’s offense looks discombobulated with these players. But they should be able to make some adjustments on their own and Nash & Kobe should tell Mike not to place Gasol at the three point line if Mike cannot figure that himself. I don’t know why Gasol ends up at the three point line at key moments.

    I also think Mike is taking quite a bit of time getting used to the situation when he was obviously brought in as a firemen.

  • 68 Bob Thomas // Jan 5, 2013 at 6:11 am

    Please no one confuse me with having any relation to Bill Thomas.That guy is a dick and a half.Makes me want to change my last name.The only smart thing he has posted was that we are free to ignore his comments.Ill take him up on that one.

  • 69 Ty-Sun // Jan 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    @Bob Thomas – Just change your nick on this site to Bob T or something similar and there will be no confusion. But if you don’t want to do that, no problem. I have respect for people who use their real names on websites instead of nicks. I don’t use mine just because it’s so distinctive that it would grant me virtually no anonymity. Tiberius (and I go by Ty) is NOT a very common name! Since my last name is also very distinctive, it would be very easy for some idiot to track me down IRL. And there are some creeps out there who will do that if they feel offended by you in some way.

  • 70 bill.thomas // Jan 6, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    @Bob Thomas: I’ll take the full serve. Please do my windshield.

  • 71 bill.thomas // Jan 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    @ ob Thomas: Oh and please add a quart of Pennzoil.

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