Surging Suns seek to upend struggling Jazz
The Phoenix Suns don't seem so lowly any more.
The franchise-worst, 17-game losing streak is a thing of the past, and the Suns are showing life with five wins in the past seven games as they enter Wednesday's home contest against the Utah Jazz.
The most impressive showing during the stretch was Phoenix's 115-111 road win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
The Suns halted an 18-game losing streak against the Warriors and also won inside Golden State's home arena for the first time since Feb. 7, 2011, when the names on the Phoenix roster included Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Vince Carter.
Star shooting guard Devin Booker recorded 37 points and 11 assists in the upset win, and he is encouraged by the club's recent flurry of success.
"It shows a lot about us. After All-Star break, most people could fold and it's happened in the past years here," Booker told reporters. "We came in after All-Star break as a team and it was like we're going to finish this thing off the right way. We've improved in so many different ways."
The Suns also rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks during the stretch.
Small forward Kelly Oubre Jr. has complemented Booker during the run by averaging 19.8 points over the past 10 contests. Oubre scored 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting against Golden State.
But Booker has been the big cog. He is averaging 33.7 points over the past three games, and he seemingly has been pleasantly surprised by the progress he is seeing up and down the roster.
"This team has changed in many ways where, when we're down and teams go on runs, we come together more than we ever have and that's been the success for us," Booker said. "That's why we've been able to pull out big wins of late. When teams go on runs, that's when we need each other more than ever."
Utah has lost two straight games and three of its past four.
The Jazz lost 98-89 at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday and the scoring output matched their lowest since a 96-89 setback against the Orlando Magic on Dec. 15.
Utah shot just 36.4 percent from the field with star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell (8 of 22) and forwards Jae Crowder (5 of 15) and Joe Ingles (2 of 9) going a combined 15 of 46.
"I liked how we competed on the defensive end. The offense will come," Jazz coach Quin Snyder told reporters afterward. "We've just got to maintain a defensive mindset. It was a tough night offensively. We had some open looks and missed some stuff at the rim, and at one point cut it to five in spite of that. I thought we hung in there and competed."
Despite his shooting issues, Mitchell scored 25 points. He is averaging 29.9 points over the past nine games.
Point guard Ricky Rubio (hip) has missed the past two games and is questionable to play against the Suns.
Backup point guard Dante Exum (ankle) returned from a 25-game absence to play against the Thunder. He missed all five of his shots in 15 scoreless minutes and had three assists and two turnovers.
Utah has dominated the Suns in the past four meetings, winning by an average of 24.5 points. The Jazz posted a 116-88 home win on Feb. 6.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 12, 2019