SALT LAKE CITY, April 14 (Ticker) -- Amare Stoudemire
scored 29 points
on 10-of-16 shooting as the underachieving Phoenix Suns avoided
a season series sweep by the overachieving Utah Jazz, 89-84.
The Jazz had won the first three meetings this season and were
trying to sweep the Suns for just the second time in 29 years.
sealed the contest when he hit a floating jump shot
with 17 seconds left that put Phoenix up, 87-82. Marion
finished with 19 points.
Phoenix (29-53), which made the playoffs last season, avoided
matching the second-worst record in franchise history since its
1968-69 expansion season (16-66). The Suns were 28-54 in
"It feels good to come up here and get a win, especially the
last game," Marion said. "Last year, we had the playoffs and we
had a good year. But this year that didn't happen. But it's
nice to win that last game and get a little closure for this
Rookie Raul Lopez
scored a career-high 25 points to lead the
Jazz (42-40), who were an inspiring story for most of the season
as they challenged for a playoff spot with little expectations.
However, Utah missed the postseason for the first time since
"We're not really happy with the loss, but the game was tough
for some of our guys," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "I think
they played hard all year, but we had a little stretch where we
had a difficult time getting things going. We had a difficult
time trying to deal with Stoudemire as well."
"It's disappointing a little bit, but we played real hard for
Jerry and for the fans this year," Jazz swingman Raja Bell
"We have them what we had and we came up short. But we really
wanted to make the playoffs."
The Suns started the third quarter with 12 straight points, nine
by Stoudemire, to take a 60-47 lead.
Utah eventually responded with 12-3 run bridging the third and
fourth quarters to tie the contest, 71-71. But Stoudemire was
too much to handle, scoring eight points in the final period.
"I thought for a game that was the last game of the season for
both teams, I thought they played an especially hard game," Suns
coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I'm just really happy for the
players. They've been through a lot emotionally, and they
responded well...They finished it up right."