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Barbosa catches fire for Suns

Brazilian shooter torches Jazz for 28

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Phoenix shooting guard Leandro Barbosa puts up a shot in the Suns' 28-point win over the Jazz on Saturday night.

Phoenix shooting guard Leandro Barbosa puts up a shot in the Suns’ 28-point win over the Jazz on Saturday night.

Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press

Phoenix guard Leandro Barbosa surely wasn't considered a Jazz killer in their first three games of the year. The fourth-year pro from Brazil was averaging 16 points, 3.7 rebounds and was shooting just 30.2 percent from the field, while hitting just 11.8 percent from the three-point line.

Saturday night, in the Phoenix Suns' 126-98 victory, Barbosa was instrumental in the 28-point win over the Jazz, who have lost six of their last seven games.

Barbosa scored a game-high 28 points after being held to just two points in the first quarter.

"I didn't think he played that well, and when I saw we got 28 (points), I guess I had better re-evaluate," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's great. He's a 20-point machine."

Barbosa finally got hot by scoring 16 of the Suns' 18 points during a crucial stretch in the second quarter as Phoenix (61-19) went on to defeat the Jazz (49-31) for the first time in five games.

After the Jazz cut the Suns' 13-point first quarter lead down to five points with 7:34 left in the second quarter Barbosa took over.

He drilled a three-pointer and then followed it with a three-point play to build the Suns' lead back to 11 with 6:33 left.

After Boris Diaw scored at the 5:49 mark, Barbosa reeled off eight more with two consecutive lay-ups, two foul shots and another lay-up.

"I think I was feeling pretty good," he said. "Like I always say, I try to do my best when I'm on the court."

Following his barrage, the Suns outscored the Jazz 16-7 in the final 3:21 to take a commanding 22-point lead at the half.

In 10 minutes of play in the second quarter, Barbosa went 6 of 9 from the field (1 for 2 from the three-point line) and 3 for 3 from the foul line.

"He was great the whole game and the second quarter he went on a streak there, and he is a lot of fun to play with and a lot of fun to watch," Phoenix guard Steve Nash said.

He cooled off somewhat in the second half hitting just 3 of 8 shots.

In all, he went 9 of 17 from the floor (2 of 5 from three) and 8 for 8 from the foul line.

That line was much better than was he posted his previous three games against Utah.

On Nov. 3, Barbosa scored 22 points in a 108-104 loss to the Jazz, but he hit just 5 of 15 shots from the field. Half of his points came from the foul line.

Just over two weeks later in a 120-117 loss to Utah he scored 15 on 4 of 16 shooting from the field (0 of 4 from the three-point line), while on Feb. 3 he was held to 11 points on 4 of 12 shooting from the field (1 of 6 from behind the arch) in a 108-105 loss.

E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com