HEADLINE

Jazz face Suns in search of 11th straight win

The Sports Xchange

February 14, 2018 at 12:41 am.

SALT LAKE CITY — Opponents change, but Utah’s ability to churn out victories remains constant.

The Jazz seek to extend their NBA-leading winning streak to 11 games when they host the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

Utah is finding different ways to get in the win column.

Explosive offense with 112 points per game during the streak

Tenacious defense with 97.1 points allowed during the streak.

All the ingredients are there for a winning recipe.

One of the chief cooks bringing it to life is Donovan Mitchell.

Through Utah’s 10-game winning streak, Mitchell has led the team with 21.0 points per game. He is the first NBA rookie to lead his team in scoring during a 10-game winning streak since Wilt Chamberlain did it during the 1959-60 season.

Mitchell overcame some early shooting struggles in Utah’s 101-99 win over San Antonio on Monday to hit a pair of go-ahead baskets in the final minute. He had missed 19 total shots before getting those two final critical field goals.

“You can’t think about the misses, that’s the biggest thing,” Mitchell said. “I was continuing to stay locked in and just stay focused and understand the shots eventually were going to fall. Fortunately, they did.”

Mitchell hasn’t worked alone in helping the Jazz (29-28) climb over .500 for the first time in two months.

Joe Ingles has been on fire over the last three games, scoring 22.3 points per game on 60 percent shooting. Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert have taken turns dominating in the paint.
Royce O’ Neale has done a bit of everything in two starts in place of injured Ricky Rubio, averaging 6.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steal.
“We’ve been competing,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “That’s always crucial, but we have been playing good defense and sharing the ball. It sounds simple, but you hear it from coaches all the time because it’s hard to do all the time.”

Stopping the Jazz winning streak will be a tall task for Phoenix.

The Suns (18-40) have lost six straight games and 11 of their last 12 contests. The most recent loss in that stretch was a 129-83 rout by Golden State on Monday.

Elfrid Payton could hold the key to changing those fortunes. One thing stood out about Payton in his debut against Denver on Saturday.

He improved the pace of play for Phoenix. The Suns pushed the ball in transition better and Payton zipped passes to teammates.

He finished with nine assists in the game, the most assists by a Suns player in their debut with the team since Stephen Marbury had 10 assists in his 2001 debut.

“He made the guys on the floor with him better and I think it will only improve as well as he understands who can do different things for us and where to be,” Phoenix coach Jay Triano told reporters following the game against Denver.

In two games with Phoenix, Payton is averaging 24.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists.

The Jazz and the Suns split the previous two meetings this season.

Utah beat Phoenix 129-97 in the most recent contest on February 2nd. Mitchell scored 40 points on 14-of-19 shooting in a game where the Jazz led by as many as 41 points in the fourth quarter. Phoenix has lost eight of nine games against Utah overall.

 

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