After blowing a 21-point, third-quarter lead, the Jazz used a frenzied comeback at the end of regulation to force overtime and then held on to beat the Suns 104-99 on Saturday night.
"We put ourselves in a bad position in that second half," said Deron Williams, who scored seven of his 21 points in overtime. "We really came out poorly."
Williams also had 13 assists and scored Utah's last four points during a 9-2 run to close the fourth quarter and force overtime with the game tied at 90. Williams only had one field goal in OT, but was 5-for-5 from the foul line and made all nine of his free throws for the night.
"We were able to regain our composure at the end of the fourth quarter," Williams said. "We are very fortunate to get a win tonight."
The Jazz won their 14th straight in Salt Lake City, where they only have four games remaining in the regular season. They can't afford mistakes at home, especially in games they lead by 21 points in the second half.
"That was one that just about got away from us," said Utah coach Jerry Sloan, who celebrated his 67th birthday with the gut-wrenching win. "We had a nice lead and then we just quit competing. You can't afford to do that."
Mehmet Okur finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz.
"We had ample opportunities to go win the game. We just fell short tonight," said O'Neal, who compensated for the poor first half by making four of his five foul shots.
Phoenix had come from behind and led by seven with about two minutes remaining in regulation, but couldn't hold on and slipped to 3½ games behind Dallas for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings. The Suns have nine games left to try to make up the deficit, starting Sunday night in Sacramento.
"Anything is possible," O'Neal said.
Carlos Boozer had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Ronnie Brewer added 12 points for the Jazz, who play six of their final 10 on the road as they try to catch Denver, which holds a two-game lead in the Northwest Division.
The Suns scored the first four points of overtime, then the Jazz pulled away with a 9-2 run. Okur made two free throws, Williams converted a three-point play and Andrei Kirilenko added a four-point play to give Utah a 99-96 lead with 2:20 left. After the shot, Kirilenko was hit in the face by Hill, who had also fouled Williams on a layup that had tied it at 94 before Williams hit his foul shot to put Utah up for good.
The Jazz were lucky to get to OT after slopping through the third and fourth quarters.
"We just couldn't get anything going for some reason," Williams said. "We were turning the ball over and taking some bad shots."
O'Neal scored eight during a 10-2 run that gave the Suns the lead, making two hook shots, two free throws and a dunk that put Phoenix ahead 88-81 with 2:11 left in regulation.
Williams made two free throws, then Okur hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 88-86 with 51 seconds left. Nash hit a 14-footer, but Williams answered with back-to-back jumpers, hitting one from the top of the key to tie it at 90 with 13 seconds left.
After falling behind by 21 early in the third quarter, the Suns pulled close with an 11-3 run, started on a free throw by Nash after Williams was called for a technical for arguing a foul called while he was tangled with Hill. Nash hit a 3-pointer to get the Suns within 65-54.
The Jazz continued to play sloppy early in the fourth as the Suns opened the period on a 9-2 run. Dudley hit a 3-pointer, then an 11-footer and Robin Lopez put back an offensive rebound that trimmed Utah's lead to 71-67 with 9:06 left in the game.
"It's one of those nights. You've got to fight and find a way to stick around and we did that," Nash said. "But we just didn't make the plays down the stretch when we really needed them."
- The Suns beat the Jazz 118-114 in Phoenix on Wednesday.
- Utah's Kyle Korver drew an offensive foul on O'Neal with 29 seconds left in the second quarter, getting leveled by an elbow to the chin under the basket.
- The Jazz were just 27-for-35 from the foul line.