Impressive Road Win For The Suns Locking Up Utah Defensively, 95-83

This one ranks up there with the best wins of the season.

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Phoenix Suns Overcome And Lock Down In Win Over Utah Jazz, 95-83

Salt Lake City, UT (Sports Network) - Utah's first game without Jerry Sloan started with nine straight points, but ended in a double-digit loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Playing for their former coach, the Jazz just couldn't keep it up.

Steve Nash had 18 points and 10 assists, Hakim Warrick scored 16 off the bench and the Suns overcame a 15-point deficit for a 95-83 victory over Utah on Friday.

Jazz guard Deron Williams, who took heat in the wake of Sloan's surprising resignation, led the way with 19 points and 14 assists in his first pro game under a different coach.

Still, the team was unable to win in Tyrone Corbin's debut despite opening the game with a 9-0 run and playing most of the first half with a lead above 10.

"We ran out of gas," Corbin said. "I mean, I don't know if it was emotions in the first half, when we showed up for the game, but the second half we just got away from everything we were doing."

Sloan stepped down Thursday in the middle of his 23rd season with the Jazz, saying during an emotional press conference that it was time to leave the team he had coached since early in the 1988-89 season.

Corbin, a former assistant, received a standing ovation before the game -- his introduction after taking over for a Hall of Famer. The home crowd had more to cheer about after Andrei Kirilenko's three-point play started the early surge.

"We came out excited. [Sloan] was a great coach, we were lucky to play under him," said Jazz forward Gordon Hayward.

But the Jazz, playing without guards Raja Bell and Ronnie Price because of injury, lost Kirilenko to a sprained right ankle late in the first half after he collided with Suns forward Grant Hill.

C.J. Miles also scored 19 points, while Hayward added 14 off the bench as Utah fell to 4-11 in its last 15 games.

"It's a tough loss," said Williams. "We just kind of came apart. We didn't do the same things in the second half that we did in the first half."

With their sixth win in seven games, the Suns (26-25) moved above .500 for the first time since they were 11-10 on December 7. They are 11-4 since January 12 -- the second-best record during that time, behind only the NBA-leading Spurs (12-3).

Robin Lopez added 14 points for Phoenix and Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

The Suns trailed by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and were down by 15 twice in the second, the last time when Hayward's layup made it 54-39 with 1:35 remaining in the half.

"Couldn't make a shot," said Suns head coach Alvin Gentry.

But Phoenix used a 19-4 run spanning the second and third quarters to tie the game at 58-58 when Lopez was fouled on a dunk and made the free throw. Lopez gave them their first lead of the game on a reverse layup that made it 64-63 with 5:14 left in the third quarter.

The Suns battled to a 71-69 edge at the buzzer, but the real damage came with a 12-2 run in the fourth quarter. Spanning more than seven minutes, the burst gave them an 85-75 lead with 3:42 left and they went up by as many as 15 down the stretch.

"Emotions run out," said Jazz forward Paul Millsap, "and we ran out."

Sloan, 68, was the longest-tenured head coach in the four major American professional sports. His longtime assistant coach, Phil Johnson, also stepped down...Including two-plus seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Sloan went 1,221-803 as an NBA head coach -- the third-winningest in league history behind Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens.Sloan went 1,221-803 as an NBA head coach...Bell sat with a strained left calf and Price was out with a sprained right big toe.

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Phoenix Suns First Test For Utah Jazz After Jerry Sloan

With the sudden announcement yesterday that Jerry Sloan was walking away from his job as the head coach of the Utah Jazz after 23 years, tonight's game has taken on new meaning. Forget about Phoenix Suns versus Utah Jazz. This isn't about Deron Williams versus Steve Nash. This game is about life after Jerry Sloan and not just in Utah. Sloan's departure leaves a gapping hole in the fabric of the NBA

Suns' coach Alvin Gentry talked about Sloan's legacy and tenure, during which time over 250 other NBA coaches have been hired (and fired). Gentry counted up nine different coaching jobs he's held during Sloan's time running the Jazz.

"If I'm not mistaken, I think in the last 15 years he's had one losing season. That's a pretty good run right there," Gentry said.

"Obviously we know the guy's already a Hall of Fame guy, but I don't think he'll ever be judged as a guy who didn't win a championship. It's really difficult to win championships. You can have a great legacy coaching and it doesn't come down to winning or losing a championship. I think he's go down as one of the greatest coaches ever to coach in this league."

Discipline and consistency were the keys to the Jazz offensive execution and defensively Sloan's teams reflected his own hard-nosed style both as a player and coach.

Gentry wouldn't speculate on the details of Sloan's unexpected resignation, but said that he had a hard time seeing Sloan leave over a conflict with a player, "He's tough guy and very set in his ways and I don't know if that would be the only reason for him leaving."

The Jazz will now be led by long-time assistant, Ty Corbin. Gentry expects the Jazz team to respond well to Corbin who is a known factor in the locker room and he doesn't see Corbin changing a system that's worked so well in Utah.

The Jazz are 31-23 on the season with their next two games against the Phoenix Suns who at 25-25 are only two games back in the loss column. These are big games for the Suns playoff race but it's always difficult to win in Salt Lake City and will be even more so tonight having played and traveled the previous night and of course walking into an unknown situation.

"I don't know what to expect. I don't know if anybody there knows what to expect, " Gentry said about tonight's game. "Just to not have him on the sidelines there is going to be very weird I think for everybody that's involved in it."

The game tips at 8:30 p.m. local time and will be broadcast on My45 locally and ESPN nationally 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.

 

Other Gentry thoughts on Jerry Sloan

"To me, I'm not sure he's done coaching. There will be opportunities there for him, for sure."

Is there a team you wouldn't want to see him coach? "Yea, the Phoenix Suns!"

"I think it's going to be odd for anyone. I've been in the NBA 22, 23 years. Since I was here he was the coach there. Since I stepped into the league.  To not have him sitting there coaching calling 'basic' and 'auto' is going to be a little different I think."

"Literally, you could go back and get a scouting report from when Hornacek, Stockton and Malone where there and  it's pretty much the same stuff."

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