NBA; Suns lean on Deandre Ayton to squeak by Jazz

Ayton suns NBA

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns high fives Torrey Craig #0 after scoring against the Utah Jazz during the second half of NBA game at Footprint Center on November 26, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Deandre Ayton scored 29 points and grabbed 21 rebounds to carry the Phoenix Suns to a 113-112 home victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

Ayton had a big steal in the final minute, made 11 of 19 field goals, dished out three assists and blocked two shots in leading the Suns to their second win in as many nights.

Devin Booker added 27 points as the Suns won their fourth consecutive game after surviving a wild last minute.

Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points and Collin Sexton had 20, but the Jazz couldn’t maintain an early 10-point lead en route to their season-high fourth straight loss.

The setback ended a difficult stretch of schedule for the Jazz, who played six games in nine nights, including two games against Phoenix. The Jazz won that previous matchup on Nov. 18, 134-133, in Salt Lake City.

Phoenix didn’t score for the final 2:03 of the game, but Utah was only able to muster two points from the free-throw line by Clarkson with 26 seconds remaining. Booker missed a 3 with 2.1 seconds remaining, but Ayton snagged the offensive rebound to seal the victory.

The Suns have now beaten the Jazz in eight of their last 10 meetings. Utah, which began the season 10-3, lost for the seventh time in nine outings.

The Jazz scored the first five points and held the lead throughout the first quarter, taking a 10-point edge into the second quarter.

The Suns used a 9-0 run, capped by an Ish Wainright 3-pointer, to knot things back up at 40-40. Sexton pushed Utah back ahead with six straight points, and the Jazz went into the locker room at halftime up 54-51 thanks to a last-second floater by Clarkson.

Utah maintained that three-point lead through the third quarter despite Booker going off for 14 points in the period.

Damion Lee began a 7-0 run for the Suns with a triple followed by buckets from Mikal Bridges and Ayton.

Utah responded with five straight points, but the Suns kept answering the Jazz and used a three-point play by Ayton to go ahead by four again with 3:52 left to play.

Both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back set. Phoenix defeated Detroit at home, while the Jazz were blown out at Golden State on Friday.


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