Suns News

Suns-Jazz Game Preview: March 14

Frye and Co. swept the season series against the Jazz last season.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Noey Kupchan
Posted: March 13, 2012

Playing at home versus on the road has made a world of difference for the Utah Jazz.

Picking up more wins as the visiting team will surely be key if they are going to eventually climb into the Western Conference playoff picture.

Utah looks to avoid a 13th loss in 16 road games and a sixth consecutive defeat to the Phoenix Suns as these teams open their season series Wednesday night.

While the Jazz (20-21) have won 15 of 21 on their own court, they've struggled to get things going in opposing arenas. Utah's 5-15 road record is second-worst among West teams, a big reason the team is outside the top eight in the conference.

Averaging 99.8 points at home compared to 93.9 on the road, the Jazz returned from a 2-3 trip to defeat Detroit 105-90 on Monday. Utah shot 54.2 percent from the field and outrebounded the Pistons 38-29.

"It's a good start to a big week for us. This is a good game for us to win," said Paul Millsap, who had a season-high five steals and his first double-double in three weeks. "We're only a few games out of the playoffs, so we're gonna come and do everything we can to win games, and hopefully we'll get there in the end."

Utah now heads back on the road, where it's been outscored by an average of 10.5 points in dropping six straight versus West foes.

"Hopefully we can try and figure it out on the road," Millsap said. "It's a big difference, especially for a young team. On the road, it's a different monster - it's just you against the world and you gotta be prepared for that."

The Jazz could have a hard time building on Monday's result given their recent efforts versus the Suns (19-22). Phoenix has outscored Utah by 10.6 points per contest during a five-game run in the series.

Despite posting their highest scoring output of the season Monday, the Suns saw their five-game home winning streak come to an end with a 127-124 loss to Minnesota. The Timberwolves dominated the paint, where they outscored Phoenix 46-32, and shot 56.2 percent from the field and 63.6 percent (14 of 22) from 3-point range.

"We just did a poor job defensively, obviously," said Jared Dudley, who scored a season-high 28 points and is averaging 19.7 over the last six games. "But even with that our offense kept us in the game and still gave us a chance to win the game.

"They played well enough to beat us (Monday) and we have to go back to the drawing board and come back on Wednesday and beat Utah."

The Suns could have trouble trying to contain an inspired Al Jefferson, who scored 33 points on 14-of-18 shooting to go along with 12 boards Monday - about 24 hours after the passing of his 82-year-old maternal grandmother.

"It's tough to go through, but it's a part of life and you must go on," he said. " ... Your teammates (are) your second family. They've been very supportive. They didn't even expect me to play tonight. I told them I was coming ... 100 percent ready to win the game because it's all about business when you step on that court."

While Jefferson's career average of 20.7 points versus Phoenix is his highest against any opponent, he's only experienced four wins in 17 meetings with the Suns.

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