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


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.

  • bill.thomas

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

  • bill.thomas

    @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.

  • Jerry

    this decade he didnt play single game for the suns…

  • bill.thomas

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

  • bill.thomas

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

  • bill.thomas

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

  • Luka

    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.

  • http://none Mikel_hAz

    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!

  • http://none @Mikel_hAz

    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

  • SHAZAM

    @ 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?

  • Luka

    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

  • SHAZAM

    bwahahahaha best post of the year luka

  • bill.thomas

    @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.

  • bill.thomas

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

    Sorry, mom.

  • DBreezy

    @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.

  • bill.thomas

    @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.

  • bill.thomas

    @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.

  • Bob Thomas

    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.

  • Ty-Sun

    @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.

  • bill.thomas

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

  • bill.thomas

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