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SUNS HOT IN VICTORY OVER UTAH

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Bryon Russell knows what he needs to do to stick with the Utah Jazz.

"I've been playing good defense," he said, after Utah's 90-88 loss Thursday to the Phoenix Suns in the Rocky Mountain Revue. "I just need to work on the other half of my game."Russell is averaging slightly more than 10 points a game, mostly on powerful drives to the hoop, but his problem last regular season - and he hasn't found the solution in summer league yet - is an inconsistent outside shot.

"That's going to be my main concern between now and veterans' camp, the jump shot," Russell said.

Last season, Jazz opponents routinely sagged off Russell, daring him to shoot from the perimeter. When he started having trouble hitting those shots, he eventually stopped taking them. And that landed him on the bench.

"I just passed up a lot of shots," said Russell, adding that it was probably a confidence thing. "The coaches want me to shoot it, and I know that if I can't I'll be out."

Maybe Russell should have watched the Suns (5-1), who put on an outside-shooting exhibition Thursday. Elliott Perry (25 points), Aaron Swinson (15) and Anthony Goldwire (16) knocked down a bunch of jumpers, combining to go 21 for 35 from the field. As a team, the Suns shot 60.8 percent.

The Jazz (3-3) were carried offensively by veterans John Crotty and Stephen Howard, who each scored 20. Howard (8 rebounds) got most of his points in the second quarter, while matched up by the less mobile and far more portly Oliver Miller.

Miller, incidentally, spent the last quarter and a half on the bench, after having words with coach Scotty Robertson. During a third-quarter spat between Crotty and the Suns' Randy White, Miller raced (figuratively speaking) downcourt and got in the face of the Jazz's Jim Havrilla, earning himself a technical. When Robertson then sent in a sub for him, Miller demanded to know why he was being taken out. Robertson tried to usher Miller to the bench, and Miller snapped, "Don't grab me like that."

After the game, Robertson reportedly said Miller's antics earned him a trip back to Phoenix.

Robertson, meanwhile, easily qualifies as the Revue's most colorful character. A white-haired, bespectacled gnome who looks like he should be back home in the workshop building clipper ships in glass bottles for the grandkids, Robertson spent much of the game taunting the officials, opposing players, even his own squad.

"I'm going to send you back to Coach K," he told Antonio Lang, the rookie from Duke, after an airball. "He don't want you. Draw iron, anyway."

And when Russell asked if a foul was on him, Robertson shouted from the sideline, "Yes, he called it on you. Who the (bleep) you think he called it on?"

The Jazz play again Friday at 8 p.m. vs. Portland. Other games pit Houston vs. Chicago, 2 p.m.; Seattle vs. Sacramento, 4 p.m.; and Phoenix vs. Charlotte, 6 p.m.

REVUE NOTES: Russell had five steals Thursday . . . Crotty is now leading the league in scoring . . . Rex Walters of New Jersey has passed Bobby Hurley as the Revue assist leader . . . Miller had 11 rebounds . . . Luther Wright made four of 10 shots for eight points, with two rebounds, in 22 minutes.

In other games:

Denver 116, Sacramento 84

The Nuggets (3-4) built a 38-point lead after three quarters, then coasted to a victory over the Kings (1-5). Forward Reggie Slater led the Nuggets with 32 points, on 12 of 13 from the field, and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes of playing time. The Kings were led by Michael Smith and Del Demps, with 18 each. Bobby Hurley scored two points (one of six), with three assists and four turnovers, in 19 minutes.

Charlotte 86, Chicago 76

Sean Higgins poured in 27 and Rex Walters added 20 as Charlotte (3-4) defeated the Bulls (4-2). Chicago got 12 points each from Evric Gray and Kenny Harris.

Seattle 105, Houston 99

Chris King scored 27 points (17 in the first half) to lead Seattle. Larry Robinson netted 23 for Houston.