Jazz win, but lose Kanter to injury

Mar 27 2013 - 11:18pm

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Another step in the right direction.

A bit more momentum.

Added confidence.

Fighting for their playoff lives, the Jazz snagged themselves another critical win on their home floor, this time beating the Phoenix Suns 103-88 Wednesday night at Energy-Solutions Arena.

In the wake of a three-game road losing streak last week, Utah (36-36) picked up its second win in a row. First it was Philadelphia on Monday, then Phoenix on Wednesday.

Neither the 76ers nor the Suns are a particularly strong team - neither is playoff bound - but that didn't matter to the Jazz, who held serve with the Lakers and Mavericks in the chase for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

"The main thing is, we won the ballgame," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We didn't play a great game but I thought we played well enough to win the ballgame."

The Jazz struggled at times, allowing Phoenix to draw within four points at the end of the third quarter.

However, Utah blew the game open with a 17-2 run to open the fourth quarter.

Gordon Hayward went 9-for-15 from the field, including 3-for-6 from behind the 3-point line, and finished with 25 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds. Teammate Al Jefferson also scored 25, doing so on 12-for-23 shooting. He also added nine rebounds and two blocked shots.

Phoenix (23-49) got 22 points from guard Wesley Johnson and another 20 from center Luis Scola.

"They never were in control of the game," Jazz guard Randy Foye said. "They might have made some runs, cut it to seven, cut it to four, but they never were in control."

It seemed the only time the Jazz looked at all squeamish was when reserve center Enes Kanter went down with a nasty-looking shoulder separation in the second quarter.

Kanter went to the floor for a loose ball but a Phoenix player fell on him, popping Kanter's left shoulder out of joint.

"It looked gross," Hayward said. "I've never seen anything like that before. A first time for everything. His shoulder was ... abnormal, for sure."

The play was not malicious, nor did it seem particularly violent. But when he finally got to his feet it was clear Kanter's shoulder wasn't in place.

Referees had called for a jump ball between Kanter and Suns center Hamed Haddadi, but the second-year Jazzman wasn't able to play.

Corbin said afterward he wanted to make sure Kanter couldn't keep playing. Rules stipulate if a player has to come off the floor for a jump ball, he can't return to the game.

Also according to rules, the Suns were allowed to choose a Jazz player to handle the jump in Kanter's absence.

They, of course, selected Utah's shortest player, 6-foot-1 point guard Mo Williams.

Predictably, the 7-foot-2 Haddadi won the jump.

But it was the Jazz who won the game, something that obviously more important to them.

With 10 games left in the regular season, they're a game behind the Lakers for the No. 8 spot in the playoffs.

They're a half-game ahead for Dallas for ninth place.

"There's light at the end of the tunnel for us," Foye said. "No extra added pressure, just understanding that if we take care of what we have to take care of, we'll be OK."

The next step for the Jazz likely won't be as easy. They'll visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday before returning to play the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

 

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