SALT LAKE CITY — When the Utah Jazz play the Phoenix Suns Friday night in the first of a four-game road trip that will take them up to next Thursday’s NBA’s trade deadline, they’ll try to balance the concepts of taking the good that came from a big victory with the understanding that they need to move on to the next game.
Following their 30-point win Tuesday night over the mighty Golden State Warriors, the Jazz will face a Suns team that is just 18-34.
“You don’t want to just forget about it,” head coach Quin Snyder said after the team practiced Thursday. “You want to move on from it in the sense that there’s some sense of accomplishment. How you got there and how you played, you need to understand the things that we did that we want to do again. It’s a question of repeating it. The more you do it, the more it becomes who you are. Hopefully games like that can give you some confidence.”
Notable among things Utah did well Tuesday, players pointed to the fact that they had a singular and unified mindset throughout the game.
“We were so focused,” Ricky Rubio said afterward. “We played against them a few weeks ago and we had a good first half, but then we lost focus. Tonight was 48 minutes of focus, and it was great.”
On the offensive end, the Jazz shot incredibly well from behind the 3-point line (14 of m28). While that probably won’t be sustainable over a long stretch, they were successful in sharing the ball, racking up 25 assists.
Additionally, Utah defended very well, something it has done throughout its three-game winning streak.
“We were in sync defensively, and I think that’s the biggest thing,” Donovan Mitchell said Monday. “For 48 minutes, we were locked in and focused.”
Snyder acknowledged that making shots helps the defense get going.
“People say, ‘Why aren’t you defending?’ Sometimes when you’re not scoring, you’re playing transition defense instead of them taking the ball out of the net, which is a lot easier to guard against,” he said. “Shooting has an impact on the game in a lot of ways.”
While the Jazz are on a winning streak, their game Friday is against a Suns team that handed them one of their worst losses of the season. Having lost their first three games of the season by an average of 30.7 points, Phoenix fired head coach and former Utah fan favorite Earl Watson.
Under interim coach Jay Triano, the Suns then beat the Sacramento Kings and then cruised past the Jazz, leading by as many as 18 points in the second half before winning by nine.
“They played really well and were ready to play, and I expect that’ll be the same thing,” Snyder said. “Like anything, we’ve got to play well to win.”
Derrick Favors said Tuesday that Utah, which will be without Rodney Hood for the sixth straight game as he continues to deal with a lower leg contusion, can have success so long as it plays the way it has over the last few games.
“I think we are at a point now where we found the chemistry that we were looking for throughout the whole season,” he said. “Guys (are) getting healthy. Everybody is playing with a lot of energy, coming out, playing for each other, sharing the ball, communicating on defense. It’s been great, and I hope we can keep it up.”