Jazz go for season sweep of Suns
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Can the Utah Jazz keep their offense operating at a potent level in the final week of the regular season?
That's a pertinent question for a team that has crafted a basketball identity from tough defense. The Jazz head into Wednesday's game at the Phoenix Suns as winners in 10 of their last 11 games. Efficient and effective offense has played a role in making it happen.
Utah notched its sixth straight home victory after beating Charlotte 111-102 on Monday. The Jazz have outscored their opponents by an average of 16.1 points and shot 50.1 percent from the field in those six games. They have also averaged 118.8 per game in their last six home games.
One factor for the uptick in scoring is a knack for sharing the ball. The Jazz have tallied at least 30 assists four times in their last six home games and 23 times overall this season.
"That just shows who we are, what we are committed to -- unselfishness," guard Donovan Mitchell said. "We've had a few turnovers because of it, but we'll take that with the unselfishness for sure."
Utah (47-30) has been doing it even while playing short-handed the past couple of games. Both Derrick Favors and Kyle Korver sat out with injuries against the Hornets. Favors was dealing with back spasms and Korver was nursing a sore right knee.
The Jazz adjusted with a shortened bench and got a season-high 14 points from Thabo Sefolosha.
"It was a good effort by our group," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "I thought particularly, defensively, we were really good for the majority of the game."
Phoenix has a chance to throw a wrench into Utah's hopes to claim a top-four seed in the Western Conference. The Suns (18-60) snapped a six-game losing streak after beating Cleveland 122-113 on Monday.
Devin Booker led Phoenix in scoring for the 12th time in the last 13 games. It was Booker's passing, not his shooting, that made the biggest impact. After averaging 52.3 points over his previous three games, Booker dished out 13 assists to go along with 25 points against the Cavaliers.
He tallied nearly half of Phoenix's 28 assists. Booker fell one assist shy of matching his career high.
"I watch basketball a lot and I read and react when I'm out there on the court," Booker said in the Arizona Republic. "My job tonight was to get everybody involved and make sure everybody got open shots."
The Suns and the Jazz are playing for the third time in three weeks. Utah has won the other three games in the season series and has beaten Phoenix 13 times in the past 14 meetings. The Jazz have held the Suns under 100 points in 12 of those games -- including all three contests this season.
Utah beat Phoenix 125-92 in the most recent game on March 25. Rudy Gobert led the way with 27 points and 10 rebounds. The Jazz overcame a season-high 59 points from Booker.
Phoenix rookie center Deandre Ayton will miss his second consecutive game because of an ankle injury.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 2, 2019