Mitchell, Gobert lead Jazz over Suns for 8th straight win
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 16, 2018 11:59 AM
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell dunks against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
By Matthew Coles, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points and Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Utah Jazz to a 116-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time), their eighth consecutive victory.
Joe Ingles scored 17 points, including four three-pointers, and Jae Crowder added 12 for the Jazz, who have won 20 of their last 22 games.
T.J. Warren paced Phoenix with 19 points while Josh Jackson had 17 and Devin Booker had 12. The Suns have lost seven in a row.
Ricky Rubio had 12 points and 11 assists, and Dante Exum made his first appearance of the season for the Jazz and finished with 10 points.
With 1:16 in the first quarter, Exum entered to a loud ovation after a long rehabilitation from shoulder surgery in October.
Because of Gobert's presence, the Suns took a number of twisting high-arcing floaters and often cut short drives to the baskets. The Suns also committed 22 turnovers while struggling to get clean looks.
The Suns' body language showed frustration and it boiled over as the Jazz took firm control of the game.
With Utah leading 69-50 in the third quarter, Rubio was headed full speed on a fast break when Jared Dudley body-blocked him to the floor, starting a scrum in front of the Suns bench. Dudley got a flagrant 2 foul and was ejected, along with Marquese Chriss for pushing Rubio back down after Dudley's shove. Ingles and Mitchell were assessed technical fouls.
Spurred by Mitchell's two dunks and a three-pointer in the final two minutes, the Jazz opened a 56-43 lead at halftime after trailing early in the second quarter.
Suns: Booker, who injured his right hand during practice Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), was a game-time decision and couldn't find much success against the Jazz defense. Facing a variety of defenders, Booker shot 3-for-18 and had four turnovers. ... Starters Dragan Bender and Alex Len both went scoreless in the first half.
Jazz: Utah led by 20 in the fourth but Utah's Quin Snyder was still coaching. While Mitchell celebrated an alley-oop to Gobert, Snyder called a timeout and charged out to mid-court to correct Mitchell's positioning a couple plays earlier. ... Crowder has led the Jazz bench in scoring in 12 of the 14 games since coming over from Cleveland in a trade. ... Utah ranks second in scoring defense and improved to 27-5 when holding opponents under the century mark.
THE EXUM FACTOR
The oft-injured Exum, who has played in just 149 games since he was drafted fifth in 2014, was eager to return this season. "He made a choice that he was going to attack it. There's been a determination ... not just to rehabilitate his shoulder, but also to stay connected mentally and stay a part of the group is something that he's [done]. It would be easy to disconnect and become detached and wallow in your misery and he just didn't do that," Snyder said.
Suns: Host the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time).
Jazz: Host the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time).