NBA: Utah's tenacious 'D' stifles Suns
Phoenix • There wasn't a magic explanation for the Jazz suddenly turning into one of the best defensive teams in the NBA for 36 minutes.
There weren't any changes in scheme. Ty Corbin didn't lace into his players verbally. Utah simply started guarding people, as trivial as that sounds.
"We just kind of got aggressive and took it upon ourselves to man up," Al Jefferson said.
Utah's 87-80 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night at US Airways Center came down to the Jazz performing where they normally haven't this season. For one quarter, the trend looked to continue, as the Suns shot 14 for 18 from the field and scored 31 points. Many of those made baskets came on wide-open jumpers as Utah began the game with little defense and little energy.
Suddenly, it all changed. The Jazz got tenacious. They got a lot of deflections, which led to easy points on the other end. They forced the Suns into a season-high 21 turnovers. They came up with 11 steals.
"I thought we picked it up on the defensive end after the first quarter," Corbin said. "We got a lot of deflections and steals. That let us get out in transition and get some baskets that way. Our offense took off from there."
Utah allowed 49 points over the final three quarters. The Jazz held the Suns to nine points in the second period, their best stretch of defense of the season.
Goran Dragic scored 11 points in the first 10 minutes and just six for the remainder of the game.
Derrick Favors had a lot to do with that. The young big man played 31 minutes, scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds. But he made it difficult for any of the Phoenix big men to score in the paint. Paul Millsap picked up five steals to add to his all-around performance.
"We just decided to get aggressive," Favors said. "We started helping out on defense, helping the helper and we didn't let our man score. It was good individual defense and good team defense as well."