The Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns are heading into Friday night’s showdown in Salt Lake City on a positive note after picking up wins in their most recent outings.
Utah, which will also host Phoenix on Sunday, has won two straight coming into its third NBA in-season tournament game. While the Jazz hope to improve to 3-0 in pool play, the Suns are looking to keep momentum going overall and in tournament action. The Suns are 0-1 against their West Group A opponents.
Phoenix earned a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at home Wednesday after falling five times in its previous seven outings.
Devin Booker’s return was a highlight, as he scored 31 points after missing five consecutive games with a strained right calf. Kevin Durant also netted 31 points in the 133-115 win, which snapped the Wolves’ seven-game winning streak.
Along with making 12 of 22 shots, Booker contributed five assists and four rebounds.
The Suns are still missing Bradley Beal. He was a late scratch from Wednesday’s game due to a sore back, preventing Phoenix from having its three stars on the court at the same time.
It’s uncertain when Beal — who is listed as doubtful to play Friday — will join Booker and Durant in action.
The Jazz surged to an in-season tournament win on their purple-clad court Tuesday after returning from a 1-3 road trip. A 13-0 run in the fourth quarter played a pivotal role in their 115-99 victory over Portland.
Jordan Clarkson picked up the slack on a night when Utah’s All-Star leader, Lauri Markkanen, was a bit off the mark. Clarkson scored a team-high 30 points, which was his third straight game with 26 or more points.
Markkanen managed to score 21 points, but he had a rough night from beyond the arc, going only 2-for-9 from deep and 8-of-18 overall.
The Jazz received important contributions from John Collins, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds, along with rookie point guard Keyonte George (15 points, seven assists, four rebounds), Collin Sexton (13 points, seven assists) and Kelly Olynyk (12 points, 12 rebounds).