Gobert sets dunk record, Jazz cruise despite Booker's 59
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 26, 2019 11:54 AM
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, center, dunks on Phoenix Suns' Deandre Ayton (22) and Troy Daniels (30) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 25, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
By Matthew Coles, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Rudy Gobert scored a season-high 27 points and set the single-season NBA dunk record to fuel the Utah Jazz to a 125-92 victory Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) over the Phoenix Suns, who got 59 points from Devin Booker.
Booker topped his previous season high of 55, set in December in a triple-overtime loss to Washington. The fourth-year guard made five three-pointers and shot 19-for-34 despite drawing several double-teams as the Jazz sought to prevent him from reaching 60 points. He also made 16-of-17 free throws.
Derrick Favors and Ricky Rubio each had 18 points and Joe Ingles added 14 as the Jazz won for the seventh time in their last eight games.
Gobert's alley-oop off a lob from Donovan Mitchell in the second quarter was his 270th dunk of the season. The 7'1" center's 275 dunks are the most in the NBA since the statistic started being tracked in 2000, besting Dwight Howard's 269 slams in 2007-08.
Gobert had six dunks in the game — he missed a no-look reverse attempt in the third period — and averages 3.7 per contest. Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo had 262 dunks entering the night.
Thanks to Booker's shotmaking the Suns were only down 14 entering the final quarter, but Utah's dunk-fest continued, even though Gobert was on the bench. Favors had two jams around a rare dunk by Ingles and the Jazz cruised from there.
Still, some of the loudest cheers of the night were for a Suns player. Jimmer Fredette, the Naismith Award winner at nearby BYU, went 1-for-10 for six points in 14 minutes in his second game back in the NBA after completing his season in China.
After a tight first quarter, the Jazz scored 14 unanswered points, capped by Mitchell's three-pointer, to open a 40-23 lead in the second quarter. Booker scored 18 second-quarter points but the balanced Jazz outscored Phoenix 36-22 in the period to take a 62-43 halftime advantage.
The Jazz had the most difficult schedule in the NBA at one point but are now capitalizing on facing a host of teams outside the playoff race. This win was the first game of a four-game homestand against teams well below the .500 mark.
The Suns have lost 6-of-7 and four in a row.
Beyond Booker, the Suns were missing most of their firepower due to injury. T.J. Warren (18.0 points), Kelly Oubre Jr. (15.2), Josh Jackson (11.0) and Tyler Johnson (10.9) forced some players to be more aggressive offensively and Booker to carry a heavy load despite a lot of defensive attention.
Suns: Richaun Holmes got two quick technical fouls and was ejected after getting whistled for a rebound foul just before halftime. ... The Suns didn't run a complicated offensive system as they mostly screened for and passed to Booker but still committed 22 turnovers. ...
Jazz: Utah outscored Phoenix in the paint, 70-32. ... Gobert's previous season best was 26 against Oklahoma City on Feb. 22 (Feb. 23, PHL time). ... The Jazz had 31 assists and made 10-of-21 three-pointers.
Suns: Return home to play Houston Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), the first game of a five straight at home.
Jazz: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time).