The Phoenix Suns notched their eighth straight win Wednesday with a 105-97 road victory over the Utah Jazz. Devin Booker led the way with 43 points and 12 rebounds as the Suns improved to 38-9, which remains the best record in the NBA.
It was Booker's 16th career 40-point game, setting a new franchise record.
Chris Paul added 21 points with 15 coming in the fourth quarter. It was the second meeting in three days between the two teams, as the Suns also defeated the Jazz on Monday at home. Phoenix is now 19-4 in away games, the best in the league.
Utah fell to 30-19 after its third consecutive loss and has lost five of its last six games. Jordan Clarkson led the team with 26 points off the bench. Mike Conley added 16 points and 10 assists, and Hassan Whiteside had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The Jazz were playing without two of their top three players as Donovan Mitchell (concussion) and Rudy Gobert (calf) sat out.
G Devin Booker, PHX: 43 points (16-of-28 FG), 12 rebounds
G Chris Paul, PHX: 21 points (15 in fourth quarter)
G Jordan Clarkson, UTAH: 26 points (off bench)
G Mike Conley, UTAH: 16 points, 10 assists
C Hassan Whiteside, UTAH: 16 points, 11 rebounds
Booker's Big Night Powers Suns to Victory
It was the Devin Booker Show on Wednesday. Phoenix put the ball in the hands of its best player early and often, and he delivered.
Booker was in attack mode from the jump, pouring in 21 points in the first quarter on 8-of-11 shooting. He had no issues slicing his way through Utah's defense and getting to his spots.
With Booker leading the charge, the Suns jumped out to a 39-18 lead. But things got quiet in the second when Booker went to the bench, and the Jazz clawed their way back to make it a two-point game at halftime.
Booker was aggressive coming out of the break with seven early points. He continued to carry the Suns on his back as no other player had over 10 points through three quarters.
Booker finally got some help in the fourth quarter as Paul woke up. The veteran point guard had 15 of his 21 points in the final frame. The Suns showed why they are the most clutch team in the league with their play down the stretch.
The Suns won Wednesday's game because they had the best player on the floor. Booker's performance made up for a mostly quiet performance from a Phoenix supporting cast that is usually pretty balanced on the offensive end.
Thanks to Booker's ability to carry the team, combined with Paul taking over late, the Suns will remain a difficult team to take down. Phoenix looks poised to make a second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.
Short-Handed Jazz Show Fight in Defeat
Utah knew it would be a struggle against the team with the best record in the NBA without its two best players. And things looked bleak after the Jazz fell behind by 21 after the first quarter.
But Utah refused to go down easily on its home floor and fought its way back with a strong second quarter. The Jazz played strong defense and ran the Suns off the three-point line. The team's offense woke up with Clarkson leading the way, scoring 10 points in the period. Utah outscored Phoenix 30-11 in the second quarter.
The Jazz tried to keep up in the second half, but they had no answer for Booker. Utah also struggled against Phoenix's defense and shot 29.4 percent from the field in the third quarter. The team's 64 points through three quarters was its lowest total of the season.
But once again, the Jazz didn't go down without a fight. Clarkson ignited the crowd in the fourth quarter with three early triples to cut the lead to single digits.
Ultimately, the Suns were able to put the game away, but the Jazz made them work for it.
Despite the loss, Utah should be satisfied with its effort Wednesday. The team could've folded early but kept its composure and managed to make it a competitive game. Once the Jazz get back to full strength, they will have a better chance of keeping up with the elite teams in the Western Conference.
The Suns will try to make it nine straight wins on Friday at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Jazz will look to end their skid in a road matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies that same day.