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Jazz can't douse House

Phoenix guard too hot to handle, hits 7 treys, 31 points

Phoenix guard Steve Nash, front, drives past Mehmet Okur. Nash finished the game with six points, 10 assists and four rebounds.
Phoenix guard Steve Nash, front, drives past Mehmet Okur. Nash finished the game with six points, 10 assists and four rebounds.
Paul Connors, Associated Press

PHOENIX — If only the Jazz's defense of Eddie House on Friday had been as vigorous as it was when they made a case Thursday to protect Carlos Boozer, the outcome might have been different.

Instead, the Suns guard scored a career-high 31 points and knocked down a career-high seven 3-pointers as Phoenix beat Utah 102-94 on Friday night at American West Arena.

It was the fourth straight loss for the 4-6 Jazz, who watched rather helplessly as House shot 11-of-16 from the field, including 7-of-11 from behind the line.

"I was right there with him," said Milt Palacio, one of several Jazz guards, along with Deron Williams, Devin Brown and Gordan Giricek, who tried but failed to shut down House. "I think the only thing else I could do was foul on the shot.

"It's tough when a guy does get hot like that," Palacio added. "He did, and you have to give him credit."

In the opening half, especially, House wasn't just hot. He was burning down the joint.

A sixth-year pro from nearby Arizona State University who spent his first three NBA seasons with Miami, the 2003-04 season with the Los Angeles Clippers and parts of last season with Charlotte, Milwaukee and Sacramento, House had 17 points at the break, including 13 with three treys in the second quarter alone.

He turned his ankle late in the second quarter, but returned in the third to hit the shot that turned away a late Jazz comeback bid.

Utah — playing without four key cogs — Carlos Boozer, who is out least another month with a hamstring strain that on Thursday prompted the Jazz to trot out a team physician to make the case that the injury really is legit; Andrei Kirilenko and Keith McLeod, who have missed the last three games with an ankle sprain and back spasms, respectively; and Matt Harpring, whose pregnant wife went into labor late Thursday — cut a 10-point Phoenix second-quarter lead to one at 66-65 with two minutes and 26 seconds left in the third.

One possession later, the Jazz had a chance to go up by one — but 29-point team-high scorer Mehmet Okur missed a 19-foot jumper with 11 seconds still on the shot clock.

"We have a little bit of prosperity, then we come down and turn the ball over or take a tough shot," Sloan said. "That plays into their hands, because they change ends. They're awfully quick, they're awfully good, and they all pass the ball. That gives them easy opportunities."

Ones they take advantage of, too.

House, the first individual opponent to score more than 25 on Utah this season, hit one of his seven 3-pointers just six seconds after Boris Diaw pulled down the long rebound of Okur's miss. Before the quarter was done, Leandro Barbosa would make a trey of his own to send the Suns into the final quarter up seven at 74-67.

Phoenix, playing without injured star Amare Stoudemire, led by double digits for all but the first 33 seconds and last 36 seconds of the fourth.

That was in large part because the Jazz couldn't figure out how to contain House, who hit 4-of-6 from the field, including two more treys, over the game's final 12 minutes.

"He just had a terrific game," said coach Jerry Sloan, whose Jazz just finished a season-opening stretch in which they played seven of their first 11 games on the road. "We never got close to being able to get him at the 3-point line. He was wide open, and he had some kind of game.

"The way they beat us — they just kept pushing the ball at us, kept pushing the ball and getting easy baskets, then having him sit out there making 3-point shots."

Yet House wasn't the only reason the Jazz crumbled like, well, a house of cards.

Eighteen turnovers, including nine in the opening quarter alone, also had something to do with it.

"We just can't turn the ball over like that, and I think that's what we did," said Palacio, who had five miscues himself. "I think I turned it over a couple of times just carelessly."

Utah, using its fourth different starting lineup in as many games because of injury and illness woes, has committed 15 or more turnovers in each of its past five outings.

"We were just careless with the ball," said Williams, who also committed five turnovers. "No excuse. It's not because of 'different players.' "

Williams, in other words, had no defense to present.

And neither did the Jazz.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com