The Utah Jazz probably could have won this game without Derrick Favors; but in his absence the Phoenix Suns inspired Utah to play their game. And not surprisingly, Phoenix won. The Jazz were leading after one and at halftime; however, a strong third quarter allowed the visitors to tie it up 77-77. The fourth quarter was somewhat back and forth, but a strong sequence where Markieff Morris made a second chance shot, stole the ball, and Goran Dragic nailed a three turned a one point game into a six point game with 2.75 minutes left. That margin, coupled with the Jazz' inability to close this game out strong, allowed for the Suns to stay out of reach for the remainder and could rely on free throws (little time left) to escape Utah with a win.
These two squads ended up shooting 53 three pointers in a 48 minute game. Phoenix shot three more threes, and the Jazz made one more three. This is an interesting math problem for some nerds to figure out (or inspire you to click on a box score). In both team's case, the three point attack was a result of ball movement and defensive decision making. These were designed threes, not straight up jacked threes. Both teams probably should have shot better from outside though. And both teams could argue that their shooting was more off, as the Suns had Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, and Anthony Tolliver end up going 2-13 from outside; and the Jazz had Trey Burke, Ian Clark, and Steve Novak go 1-11.
A few bounces here or there and this is a one sided game.
It really wasn't though, it was close through and through as both teams played their best guys significant minutes (save for Quin Snyder who kept Favors out). Utah and Phoenix both went to the free throw line over 30 times, both shot in the 40s in FG%, both had 40 or more rebounds, both caused 15 or more turn overs, and both ended up finishing preseason with five wins.
The Suns were led by Goran Dragic (18 points, 3 assists), Isaiah Thomas (18 points, 3 assists), and Eric Bledsoe (14 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals). Markieff was their only bigman to make some noise, with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and uh, I guess that was it.
Utah was led by Gordon Hayward (24 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists), Alec Burks (20 points, 4 rebounds), and Trey Burke (12 points, 4 rebounds). The Jazz were held to only 14 assists in this game, and needed more help from their bench. Rudy Gobert and Rodney Hood did their best, but could have used some more assertiveness from Dante Exum. The other interesting thing is that Trevor Booker somehow fouled out in 22 minutes. He and Hood both just missed out on double doubles (with 9 points and 8 rebounds each), and they combined for 4 for 7 shooting from outside.
But let's circle back . . . the Jazz could have won this game had Enes Kanter and Trey Burke not have shot 9 for 28 from the field. Their 22 points on 28 shots isn't great as the primary scoring options on the night (in terms of FGA). But both of those cats are under the age of 23 -- we forget that Kanter, going into his fourth year in the NBA, is barely older than Rudy Gobert (who had another 8 and 8 night, with 3 assists).
Overall the Jazz were in it all game long. It slipped away at the end. This could be the recurring theme this year in some games. But it's a learning process. And in a game with our best player sitting for 'just because he can' reasons, I'll take it.
Should have beat the Suns. Could have beat the Suns. When it matters though, in a few years when we're both playoff teams, we'll probably beat the Suns.
EDIT: Anyone else catch this aspect of the Game Thread photo?
Sidney Lowe is surprised!