While the Phoenix Suns (26-26) were busy forgetting how to play defense and rebound against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, the Utah Jazz (31-24) were back home adjusting to life with their new coach. The Jazz added former Suns Jeff Hornacek to their staff as an assistant to former Sun Tyrone Corbin who is anxious to get his first win tonight.
The Jazz are on the verge of falling out of the playoff chase and with the way they've played recently, combined with the departure of Jerry Sloan, are very much in need of a win. That means the Suns very much need to not give them that win.
Beating Utah tonight not only helps in the standings but could also help further the demise of the Jazz season. This is a big game and Corbin knows it.
"We're in a situation now where we're kind of working our way out of the playoffs and we don't want that to happen. So we need to win games ... to continue to grow and feel good about ourselves. This is a good team. We should be able to win games and we need to win games," Cobin told the Salt Lake Tribune.
The Suns are also looking to bounce back from their poor defensive performance in the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings. The rotations were slow and players simply got beat too many times in isolation situations according unofficial team defensive captain, Grant Hill.
Hill also understands the importance of tonight's game.
"A lot was going on in a short period of time for them and now they've had some practices under their belt, they get a chance to get comfortable with one another, and I think we're the last team they faced," Hill said.
"We can't come in thinking we're just going to have an easy time with them. We've beaten them before on their court the last few years and they've beaten us here. They're more than capable of coming in here and playing very well. We've got to come out with a sense of urgency."
The Suns are expected to have a very anxious Goran Dragic back on the court tonight. Dragic is chomping at the bit to play and promises "120 percent" effort in his return. The Suns sure could use his scoring punch but at the same time, hopefully he picked up a few things about running the half court offense by watching Zabian Dowdell play in his his absence.
The Jazz will be without forward Andrei Kirilenko who is out with an ankle sprain.
The game tips at 7 p.m. local time and will be broadcast locally on Fox Sports Arizona along with Sports 620 KTAR radio. Fans can follow along with other Suns fans at the live game thread at Bright Side of the Sun.