Suns go for season-series sweep of Jazz

The Phoenix Suns host the Utah Jazz on Thursday night hoping to improve their home winning streak to five games while completing a sweep of the four-game season series.The Suns have already beaten

Suns go for season-series sweep of Jazz

The Phoenix Suns host the Utah Jazz on Thursday night hoping to improve their home winning streak to five games while completing a sweep of the four-game season series.

The Suns have already beaten the Jazz three times this season — 126-104 at home in October and twice in Utah in November, 131-128 and 140-137.

The latest Phoenix victory was spurred by Kevin Durant, who had 39 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in the double-overtime win. Devin Booker added 26 points, including 22 after halftime.

“I thought we had good momentum on the offensive side of the ball all game,” Durant said after that victory. “We stayed with that throughout the fourth quarter and the two overtimes.”

Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz in that thriller with 38 points and 17 rebounds, while Talen Horton-Tucker, who is no longer in the playing rotation for Utah, scored 25 points.

Both the Jazz and Suns picked up nice wins over the Milwaukee Bucks in recent days. Utah rallied out of a 19-point hole to defeat the Bucks on Sunday night, while the Suns defeated Milwaukee 114-106 on Tuesday night.

Booker topped Phoenix with 32 points and Durant chipped in with 28, including a monstrous dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“When it’s time to attack the rim,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said, “he tears that thing down.”

Durant’s’ three-point play — he was fouled while dunking — put Phoenix up 93-80 with 8:51 left in the game. Durant scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.

“They just forget me for a split-second, then I’m in the middle of the paint, and it’s on me to finish,” Durant said. “I’m glad I didn’t pull up for a floater or a mid-range.”

The Jazz earned an impressive 124-117 home win over the Thunder on Tuesday night.

“Those are the moments you play for,” said Markkanen, who hit a clutch 3-pointer in the final minute to clinch the win. “You want to be in at the end of the games and making differences on either defense or offense.”

Utah dominated the inside game, outscoring the Thunder 60-36 in the paint. The Jazz also had a 19-9 advantage in second-chance points and outrebounded Oklahoma City 48-32.

“Our defense in protecting the paint is ultimately what gave us a chance to win,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said.

Markkanen totaled 33 points and 11 rebounds and John Collins added 22 points and nine rebounds to help Utah rally from a second-half, double-digit deficit for the second consecutive game.

“I think we’ve been playing our game,” Markkanen said. “Moving the ball. Moving without the ball. Getting good looks. Obviously, the percentages go up when you get good shots.”

With the NBA trade deadline looming on Thursday afternoon, it’s possible the teams will look a bit different than they did after their most recent games.

It was reported by multiple outlets Wednesday afternoon, for instance, that the Jazz will trade Simone Fontecchio to the Detroit Pistons. According to ESPN, Utah will receive a 2024 second-round pick (via the Wizards), Kevin Knox II and Gabriele Procida’s draft rights.