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Article:Jazz Update 1/11/8: Slightly undermanned Jazz beat undermanned Suns

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The theme of last night’s Utah Jazz/Phoenix Suns game was “what’s your excuse for not playing!”. Let’s look at both teams’ absence reports:

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash—Stomach Flu Grant Hill—Appendectomy Shawn Marion—Bruised Elbow

Utah Jazz: Andrei Kirilenko—Lower Back Inflammation Ronnie Price—Sprained Ankle Matt Harpring—Wife Giving Birth

What was the difference? Both teams were missing three players. Unfortunately for the Suns that it was three of their starters. The Jazz were able to beat the undermanned visiting Suns 108-86.

So who helped the Jazz ensure this victory? They got their usual contribution from Deron Williams (17 points, 11 rebounds). Carlos Boozer had 18 points, and one rebound.

Instead of those two, look to center Mehmet Okur who had a simply dominating game with 22 points and 17 rebounds.

“We're a lot better team when Memo plays like that," Williams said in a Deseret Morning News post game interview. "I think that's his one of his best games of the year, if not his best game, because he did it from everywhere, he rebounded inside-outside, he played great defense."

It was great to see Memo having a game like that. He scored from all over and cleaned up the glass much like the way that Amare Stoudemire does for the Suns. STAT had 21 points and 15 rebounds on the night.

On the defensive end, Okur was notably more active than usual. During one play halfway through the second, he did a great job on help defense, picking up a charging Marcus Banks using his size to pretty much force him into a turnover.

The Jazz also had a strong showing from Ronnie Brewer, tying a career-high 21 points. "He played great tonight," Williams added. "Ronnie was everywhere tonight. You know, putbacks, he shot the ball well, he slashed to the basket, he finished, hit free throws. "It was a great game for him on a national stage, and I feel good for him that he got that exposure because people need to see him."

Because of all the Phoenix absences, it’s not the most fulfilling victory, but a win is a win. The Jazz did prove that they can do two things tonight.

If needed, they can play the Phoenix run and gun style and not be awful at it. They have a lot of quick players like Williams, Brewer and CJ Miles that can make it work. With a returning to form Okur and Kyle Korver, they can shoot from outside which stretches the defense.

The Jazz also showed that they are finally learning how to break a zone defense. After the Suns went to a 2-3 zone in the second, the Jazz’s offense was stifled to stay the lease. But after getting Okur and Korver involved from outside, they were getting enough space to feed Boozer at the low post. Hopefully they will remember this.

The Jazz have tonight off and they take on the Orlando Magic at home. Kirilenko said he might be playing then, but if not, then he’ll get to hang out on the bench with his buddy, rookie Kyrylo Fesenko.


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