PHOENIX – Al Jefferson scored 16 points and the Utah Jazz made 21 of 24 free throws in the second half, including 19 in a row, to withstand a Phoenix comeback and beat the Suns 105-100 Tuesday night for their third consecutive preseason victory.
Trailing by eight points entering the final period, the Suns took an 84-83 lead midway through the quarter on a jump shot by Earl Clark. Utah quickly surged back, going on a 17-4 run, sparked by Jeremy Evans' six points, for a 100-88 lead. Again Phoenix rallied, cutting the deficit to 103-100 on a 3-pointer by Matt Janning in the final minute, but the Jazz held on.
C.J. Miles scored 13 points for the Jazz, Othyus Jeffers had 12 and Andrei Kirilenko 10.
The Jazz took advantage of Phoenix's sloppy ballhanding and poor shooting to assume a 50-42 halftime lead. The Suns, who have been turnover prone during the preseason, lost the ball 12 times in the first half, compared to only six miscues for the Jazz. Phoenix wound up with 20 turnovers.
Phoenix, which had shot a sizzling 59 percent (10 for 17) in building a 31-25 advantage after the first quarter, slumped to 28 (5 for 18) in the second period, when the Suns were outscored 25-11.
During that period, it was the Utah reserves who did all the damage. Raja Bell, playing against his former Phoenix teammates, contributed five points during the quarter, including a 3-pointer.
The Suns also fared poorly at the foul line in the half, missing seven of 16 free throws.
Jefferson was the only player in double figures at intermission, scoring all of his 10 points in the opening period. Jared Dudley led the Suns with nine, while Steve Nash had seven assists — including six on the Suns' first seven baskets. Nash finished with a game-high 10 assists.
The teams played evenly through the third period, with Utah leading 79-71. The Jazz were able to stay in front thanks to their 14-for-14 free throw shooting. The Suns, meanwhile, were only 7 for 12.
Jefferson, Deron Williams and Miles combined for 27 of Utah's 29 points in the third period, Miles leading the way with 10.
The Suns' Hedo Turkoglu left the game with a back contusion in the second quarter and did not return.
Notes: The Suns played their first three exhibition games on the road and will be away from home for their next two — at Utah and Toronto — before completing their preseason schedule at US Airways Center against Golden State and Denver. ... The Jazz were missing centers Mehmut Okur (left Achilles') and Francisco Elson (strained right hamstring). ... The Suns are only one of three NBA teams to win at least 50 games in five of the last six seasons (the others are Dallas and San Antonio). ... Utah has advanced to the playoffs four straight years and 19 times in Jerry Sloan's 22 years as coach.