THE FACTS: Scoring in single digits in any quarter of an NBA game is sure path to failure.
The once-high scoring but now lifeless Phoenix Suns found this out when the visiting Utah Jazz shut them down in the second quarter, then cruised to an easy 87-80 win.
Al Jefferson led the Jazz (17-17) with 21 points and eight rebounds. Paul Millsap had a great all-around game with 19 points, 10 boards and five steals.
"I thought he was the key to the game," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said.
Millsap said, "That's why every game is so important; you never know which one is going to be your confidence booster."
The Suns, losers of seven of the past eight, fell to 12-22. They were led by Marcin Gortat with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Suns scored 31 points in the first quarter (they led 31-25), then 31 more in the next two periods. To get to 80, they put up 10 meaningless points in the final 2:26.
"The last three quarters were just the worst we could have possibly played," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said.
Gortat said, "It's just all about competing and playing hard. And quite honestly, we are not doing it."
After the Jazz' so-so start, "We handled the first part of the pick-and-roll defense better," Corbin said.
The Suns committed 20 turnovers while scoring just 34 baskets.
They made the game close only briefly, when they pulled to within 51-50 midway through the third quarter.
Then Jefferson hit two free throws, Randy Foye nailed a runner, then Jefferson scored near the hoop, then hit two jumpers. The Jazz now led 61-52; they cruised thereafter. They led 87-71 with 2:30 left.
The Jazz were without backup big man Enes Kanter, out with a sprained ankle. They'll also have to go without starting point guard Mo Williams for several weeks after Williams underwent thumb surgery.
QUOTABLE: "When Paul scores like that, we don't lose."
-- Jefferson on Millsap.
THE STAT: The Jazz' bench outscored the Suns' reserves 32-14.
TURNING POINT: When the Suns went to their bench.
QUOTABLE II: "We were in tune."
-- Millsap on the Jazz.
HOT: Millsap hit 7-for-10 in the second half.
NOT: Suns reserves Shannon Brown and Markieff Morris combined to shoot 1-for-11 for two points.
GOOD MOVE: Corbin expertly rotated big men Jefferson, Millsap and Derrick Favors. The result: a combined 50 points and 27 boards.
BAD MOVE: After saying before the game, "Maybe we can't sub all the (bench) guys in at once." Gentry did just that at the start of the second quarter. The result: With little firepower, the Suns went 8:27 without scoring and -- after putting up 31 points in the first period -- scored just nine in the second quarter.
IN THE ARENA: On a Friday night, the building was perhaps half-full. Attendance in the 18,000-seat arena was announced as 14,874. Boo-birds also were heard, a fairly rare occurrence in Phoenix.
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Michael Beasley failed to score in 7:38. He has played 15 minutes in the past three games including one DNP (two points total). Also, P.J. Tucker, who made his third straight start (the only three of his career) failed to score in 24 minutes.
NOTABLE: The next win will be No. 2,000 all time for the Suns. They would accomplish this in the fourth-fewest games. They also have the No. 4 all-time winning percentage (.558), behind only the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics.
UP NEXT: For the Jazz, Saturday @ Denver, Monday vs. Mavericks and Wednesday @ Charlotte. For the Suns, Sunday vs. Grizzlies, Tuesday @ Bucks and Wednesday @ Celtics.