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Jazz 109, Suns 86

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SALT LAKE CITY — Shooting guard Gordon Hayward flirted with his first triple-double, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and seven Jazz players scored in double figures in Utah’s 109-86 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

Hayward showed signs of breaking out of his month-long shooting slump, hitting seven of 13 attempts from the field. He didn’t play the final six minutes as the Jazz (21-36) cruised to their second straight win overall and against Phoenix.

The slumping Suns, trying to hold onto the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, had a couple of built-in excuses for a poor performance and their third straight loss.

The visitors were more short-handed than usual, as leading scorer and playmaker Goran Dragic (sprained ankle) didn’t suit up. Phoenix (33-24) also was without guard Eric Bledsoe (knee), guard Leandro Barbosa (toe) and center Viacheslav Kravtsov (ankle).

Phoenix also traveled to Utah late Tuesday night after losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves at home.

Suns guard Gerald Green scored a team-high 17 points, including two highlight-reel dunks in the first half. Point guard Ish Smith, who started for Dragic, finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Small forward Richard Jefferson scored 17 points, and center Derrick Favors, guard Alec Burks and point guard Diante Garrett each contributed 15 points for Utah.

The Jazz improved to 2-2 against the Suns, who are coached by longtime Utah player and assistant Jeff Hornacek. The former All-Star shooting guard was on the Jazz’s NBA Finals clubs in 1997 and ’98, and he was a coach in various capacities for Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan and current coach Tyrone Corbin from 2007-13 before being hired by Phoenix last May.

The 23-point margin was Utah’s largest winning spread of the year. Utah’s previous largest margin of victory was 21 in road games at Sacramento and Detroit.

Utah, which only averages 95 points a game, improved to 14-2 when it scores more than 103 points.

The Jazz, who shot 56.8 percent compared to Phoenix’s 38.8 percent clip, outscored the Suns 56-42 in the second half to turn the contest into a blowout.

This was the Jazz’s final home game until March 10, when former Utah forward Paul Millsap makes his first return with the Atlanta Hawks. Utah kicks off a six-game road trip Friday in Cleveland against the Cavaliers.

The Suns begin a four-game homestand Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans.

NOTES: Suns PG Goran Dragic was sidelined after spraining his right ankle in Tuesday’s home loss to Minnesota. “You know Goran. He wants to try, but it makes sense to keep him out,” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. “It’s pretty sore and swollen. … Maybe we’ll get him back for Friday.” … Jazz teammates Gordon Hayward and John Lucas III participated in a tennis target-hitting competition Tuesday during a Champions Challenge event featuring retired greats John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and James Blake. Both Hayward and Lucas were accomplished tennis players as teenagers, but they combined to hit 1 of 6 targets. “For the record, (Lucas) didn’t hit any of the targets,” Hayward said. “I’ve got one up on him right now.” Now the Jazz players want to take their rivalry to the tennis court. Lucas: “I have placement in where I put the ball. I would have Gordon on the run. He’d be out of shape.” Who’d win? Rookie Trey Burke: “I’ve never seen either one of them play. All I’ve heard was talk from both of them.”

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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