Utah-Phoenix: Another Close Call

Bill AnterlineContributor IMarch 26, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 18:  Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Phoenix Suns is congratualted by his teammate Steve Nash #13 and Grant Hill #33 during the basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second quarter at the Staples Center on February 18, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

26 March, 2009

The Suns pulled off another tight win tonight against the Utah Jazz.  This ended a three game winning streak for the Jazz and once again extended the Suns' winning streak to six.

The game started out quite unexpected for both teams.  The Suns could not grab a rebound on either side of the court, therefore giving the Jazz  several second chances.  The really surprising part was that the Suns, despite their deplorable rebounding held a lead for the majority of the first quarter and still held a small lead going into the second quarter.

The second quarter was all about Utah's star point guard, Deron Williams.  Lead by Williams, the Jazz fought back against the Suns' high percentage shooting and managed to get a six point lead by halftime.  The score was Utah 58, Phoenix 52.

Just as the second quarter was good to Williams, the third quarter was good to Phoenix's Matt Barnes.  Barnes, assisted by Steve Nash had a field day with the fast breaks and squeezed in four baskets with an identical play - along with a few more baskets.  Barnes and the Suns pulled ahead by six points entering the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter was very fast paced and had several lead changes.  Deron Williams did a great job of fulfilling his point guard duties, not only sinking outside shots, but finding the open man.  The only problem was, that the open men were not making as many shots as Utah would have liked.

In the end, the Suns came out with a victory against the 6th ranked team in the Western Conference.  The final score was Phoenix 118, Utah 114.

Deron Williams ended the night with 25 points, 3 rebounds and 10 assists.  His fellow team mate Carlos Boozer had 14 points, 12 rebounds and 1 assist. 

Kudos also to Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver.  Brewer scored 17 points, and staying true to his title (7th in steals) had 2 steals tonight.  This is great play for someone recently off the injured list.  Korver scored 15 points going 5-9 from behind the 3-Point line.

For the Suns, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes and Jason Richardson led the way.  Hill ended with 26 points, and 5 rebounds.  Barnes came away from tonight with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists.  This is a huge difference from the previous game against the Nuggets where Barnes only scored three points.  Richardson had 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists.

A big applause goes to fan favorite Louis Amundson and back up point guard Goran Dragic.  Amundson had an amazing night with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.  His energy kept the life from falling out of the Suns.  Dragic, although still showing a need for control on the perimeter, also had a good night.  He came away with 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.

This was a very important game for the Suns as they are trying to beat out the 8th ranked Dallas Mavericks for the last spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.  Although the Suns have proven in the past two games that they can beat ranked teams, the real challenges are still ahead:

One:  Can the Suns achieve victories on the road?  Seven of Phoenix's last eleven games are road games and both of their latest victories were done on home court.

Two:  Will the Suns be able to exert the same effort - if not, more than they have lately for the rest of the season?

These are things that a true playoff team can do.