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Jazz pick perfect time to finally beat Phoenix

Published April 25, 2012 2:44 pm

NBA • After 7 straight losses to Phoenix, this win counts a bit more.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Jazz haven't beaten Phoenix often lately, but they picked a perfect time to do so.

Utah snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Suns with a 100-88 victory on Tuesday night.

The Jazz's first win over Phoenix since March 10, 2010, enabled them to clinch a Western Conference playoff berth.

Going into the game, coaches Tyrone Corbin and Alvin Gentry disagreed when asked if the Suns' recent success against Utah gave them an advantage.

"They will have an edge, knowing they can beat us," Corbin said. "But you know what? It's a new day for us. We understand that it's on our home floor and … we're going to be ready. We don't want to think about what's happened in the past. We want to make sure we come out and handle our business tonight."

Gentry was unaware of his team's winning streak over Utah — not that he thought it would matter.

"I don't read anything into that," Gentry said. "At the end of the day, this is going to be the game that counts. It doesn't matter if we've beaten them 10 times or they've beaten us 10 times. It comes down to this game. … The [winning] streak doesn't enter into the equation."

Neither the Jazz nor the Suns looked like a Western Conference playoff team midway through the season.

From Feb. 6-28, Utah lost nine of 11 games and slipped to 20-22 for the season.

Prior to facing Phoenix, however, the Jazz won five of their previous seven to get back into the race.

"It's fun," said veteran forward Josh Howard. "The last two weeks have been fun. In fact, the whole month of April has been fun. It's playoff basketball. … [and] we'll see how we respond. Hopefully we get this win."

Meanwhile, Phoenix owned a 6-12 record after a 109-71 loss at Portland on Jan. 27. But the Suns used a 9-2 stretch after the All-Star break to get back on track. According to Gentry, the improvement came after he tightened his rotation and the players he put on the floor started to consistently make shots.

"We said, 'We're going to play these guys,' Gentry explained. "We said, 'It doesn't matter if they struggle a little bit. We're going to have to live with these guys.' "

luhm@sltrib.com