Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/5/13
PHOENIX – Paul Millsap had three new stitches in his ear. His voice box was affected by an elbow to the throat and his midsection was hurting from a charge to the ribs. But the Utah Jazz had a road win and Millsap was happy. For the Phoenix Suns, the pain and unhappiness was written all over the box score. Millsap had 19 points and Al Jefferson had 12 of his 21 points during a 14-2 Utah run in the third quarter as the Jazz pushed back to the .500 mark with a rare road victory, an 87-80 win over the slumping Suns Friday night at US Airways Center. Gordon Hayward had 14 points and Randy Foye added 13 for the Jazz, who held the Suns to just 49 points over the final three quarters while Millsap and the offense heated up. "I took a shot to the throat, that's why I'm talking like this," Millsap said softly. "It's not fun to get stitches, but it's all fun in basketball. But our team was having fun. We had a slow start, but we got it started on defense and when we get out and run we can beat any team in this league." Marcin Gortat had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Goran Dragic added 17 points to lead the Suns, who scored 31 points in the first quarter but needed two quarters to get the next 31. They were held to nine points in the second period. Phoenix also committed a season-high 21 turnovers and after making 16 of their first 20 shots, missed 37 of 55 shots over the final 36 minutes. "I thought the last three quarters were just the worst we could have possibly played," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said." The Suns have lost seven of their last eight and 14 of their last 19. "It's all about competing and playing hard and right now, quite honestly, we're not doing it," Gortat said. "We moved the ball, we shared the ball, we played inside out (in the first quarter) and then we stopped doing it. It's happening every game now. We're fine for the first 10 or 12 minutes, and then everyone tries to do it on their own." The Jazz outscored the Suns 60-28 in the paint, and Jefferson knew Phoenix would be hard-pressed keep up the early pace. Phoenix led 31-25 after one quarter thanks to 11 points by Dragic and eight each from Gortat and Luis Scola. "They were hitting big-time shots, but they weren't getting any easy shots," Jefferson said. "We just picked up our defense and started attacking them." Phoenix scored the first five points of the second quarter and pushed the lead to 36-25 on a Markieff Morris 16-footer with 9:59 left. From there the Suns did just about nothing. They went the next 8:37 without a single point in a hazy blur of missed shots and turnovers, and the Jazz scored 11 straight to tie the game on a Derrick Favors jumper with 6:31 left. Both sides fell into the same offensive malaise. At one point, the teams combined to miss 21 straight shots and go 4:40 without scoring a single point until Millsap's put-back gave the Jazz a 38-36 lead with 1:51 left. The Suns avoided a franchise record for fewest points in a quarter (seven) when Scola and Dragic scored 27 seconds apart to stay within 42-40 at the half. "We went 15 straight possessions without a basket because we weren't executing and we weren't getting into play sets quickly enough," Gentry said. "We were always on the shot clock -- and they get 87 points and 60 in the paint. "It was just a disaster, really." The third quarter belonged to the Jazz. Jefferson, who had missed nine of 13 shots in the first half, made two jumpers, a hook, a layup and two free throws during a span of 3:04 as the Jazz turned a 51-50 into a 65-52 bulge. Millsap had 10 points in the fourth to carry the win home. "I don't remember one game where Paul played very well and we lost. I'm not saying it's never happened, but there aren't many," Jefferson said. "When he has a good night and is leading the team in scoring or up there, we're hard to beat." NOTES: Utah guard Mo Williams had successful surgery on his injured right thumb in New York on Friday. Williams, who hurt the thumb on Dec. 22 in Miami, will be in a splint for six weeks before being re-evaluated. Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson will man the point for the Jazz. ... Center Enes Kanter sat out with a sprained ankle suffered Wednesday against Minnesota. ... The Suns came into the game shooting 45 percent in five consecutive games, a season high. But they had only one win to show for it. ... The Suns had won the last four home games over Utah, including all three against head coach and former Sun Tyrone Corbin. ... In three games since returning from a hip injury, Dragic had averaged 17.3 points and 8.7 assists and an uncharacteristic 1.67 blocks. He scored at least 16 points in each game, the longest such streak in either of his two stints as a Sun.
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