PHOENIX -- With his team in a deep hole, Jerry Sloan turned to his bench. The result was a big rally and a tough road win for the Utah Jazz.
But the Jazz never would have been in position to win had it not been for reserves Matt Harpring, Derek Fisher and Gordan Giricek -- inserted by Sloan with his team down by 15 points in the third quarter. It was a luxury the depth-shy Jazz of a year ago could not have afforded.
"I'm going to tell you what happened. The bench came in and gave us a big boost," Boozer said. "It gave us energy and they're the ones that got us back in the game."
Boozer had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz, who trailed 101-95 after Leandro Barbosa's two free throws with 2:26 to play.
Phoenix still led 103-101 on Steve Nash's two free throws with 1:10 left. But Harpring was fouled by James Jones on a layup and made the three-point play to put Utah ahead 104-103 with 57 seconds remaining.
Kurt Thomas made one free throws with 44 seconds left to tie it at 104.
Boozer broke free after a tussle with Thomas for the ball to get the go-ahead stuff. Barbosa missed an open baseline layup that would have tied it.
"I don't know what happened," Barbosa said. "I thought the ball was going to go in. I think I gave the ball too much spin on the backboard. Nobody likes this ball. It's OK. We've got to keep it up. We have another game tomorrow, but it was a tough one."
Fisher's two free throws with 9.3 seconds left sealed the victory.
"They're a tough team to guard but we did our best," Harpring said, "and we took advantage of some mismatches that they gave us."
It was the second time in their three games that the Suns failed to hold on to a big lead.
"We're just not quite in synch," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We have a couple of guys that are out of synch. I've got to get them back in there and get them playing. The bright spot is that in all the games we've been in we're up by 19, 15 -- we just can't hold it."
Barbosa, inserted into the starting lineup in place of Boris Diaw, scored 22 points, nine in the final 5½ minutes, but was just 5-for-15 from the field. Shawn Marion had 19 points and Nash added 17 points and 10 assists. Raja Bell scored 17 points before fouling out with 4:37 remaining.
Fisher scored 18 points and Harpring had 17 for Utah. Andrei Kirilenko had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Jazz, who outrebounded Phoenix 48-32. There were 69 free throws in the game -- Phoenix was 31-of-35, Utah 28-of-34.
Marion's 3-pointer and Bell's breakaway layup put Phoenix ahead 71-56 and drew a timeout by Sloan.
"They kind of quit on me for a little bit there," Sloan said. "We had a stretch where we didn't look like we wanted to win the game."
In came the reserves, and Utah responded with a 10-0 surge, including two 3-pointers by Giricek, to cut it to 71-66 with 3:42.
Utah's run reached 21-5 and the Jazz took the lead 77-76 on two free throws with Fisher with 1:47 left in the third. Marion's 3-pointer put Phoenix back on top 79-77 and the Suns led 83-77 entering the fourth quarter.
"I thought we were in control to close it out," Marion said. "They made some tough shots, and I think we were a little undersized there for a minute. They're a big team. We've got to learn from this. We've got to get together and understand we still need work. It ain't supposed to be a cakewalk for us."
- The Suns reached a contract agreement with G-F Jalen Rose earlier in the day and expect him in uniform for Wednesday night's game in San Antonio.
- Marion had two steals and needs two more to become the fourth player in Suns history to reach 1,000 in his career.
- Sloan has a losing record against just three teams -- Phoenix (40-41), Indiana (21-23) and San Antonio (34-47).
- The Jazz blew a 13-point lead with 12 second-quarter turnovers.