W’s don’t always feel as good during the preseason when everyone knows they won’t count, but boat-racing a team like the Utah Jazz did in their 111-92 win over the Phoenix Suns will still manage to make fans sleep well.
Both teams struggled mightily to start the game, the Jazz going 6 of 18 from the field in the first quarter. Mike Conley, who made his preseason debut in this game, embodied some of that struggle. The veteran point guard missed each of his first five shots, only making his first field goal with 1:02 left in the second quarter.
Even when scoring picked up following the first quarter, neither the Jazz or Suns could separate. The lead changed hands a few times in the second quarter but the largest lead was seven, an advantage both sides held at one point (Utah 29-22 and Phoenix 48-41).
Utah closed out the half on an 8-0 run, which turned out to be a precursor to an explosive third quarter for the Jazz. That 8-0 push was only the first part of a 32-6 run that spanned halftime and spurred a 38-22 third quarter in Utah’s favor.
The starters played much more minutes this time around. Georges Niang was the only starter to top 20 minutes in the preseason opener but on Monday all five starters — Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic and Gobert — topped 25 minutes, though none topped 30. The increased play obviously led to increased production. Bogdanovic led all scorers with 18 points and was followed closely by Conley’s 16 and Mitchell’s 15. Ingles struggled a tad with just five points and seven turnovers. And Jordan Clarkson did Jordan Clarkson things off the bench with 12 points in 23 minutes.
This game was Chris Paul’s debut with the Suns, albiet just the preseason. He only played 18 minutes but had a rough go scoring-wise, shooting just 2 of 7 with five points. Paul did, however, record six assists in his short time on the court. And, of course, Devin Booker didn’t let a loss affect his stat-line as he put up a game-high 27 points.
Game MVP: Rudy Gobert
The Stifle Tower didn’t do as much stifling (at least in the way of blocks, he didn’t record any), but he did plenty of glass eating with 20 rebounds in his 28 minutes. Gobert also made frequent trips to the free throw line and went 7 of 10 while there which accounted for most of his 11 points on the night.
┏┓— utahjazz (@utahjazz) December 15, 2020
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Rotation Fringe Watch
It being the preseason there are plenty of guys getting burn on the court they normally wouldn’t get. The top performer would definitely be second-year wing Miye Oni. He is actually getting some real minutes right now rather than checking in during the fourth quarter for development minutes, but he is still fighting to be relevant when there aren’t guys sitting out with injuries (Shaq Harrison and Royce O’Neale both sat out tonight).
Oni finished with eight points on a solid shooting night, going 3 of 4 from the field and adding three rebounds and a pair of steals.
Elijah Hughes continues to be aggressive on offense. He didn’t shoot as well as his 4 of 6 night last time out, but he still got eight points on 3 of 8 shooting.
Udoka Azubuike was questionable to go heading into tonight with knee soreness and that may have impacted his minutes (along with Gobert playing more) as he played just six on the evening and had just two points and two rebounds.
One final preseason game remains as the Jazz will take on the Los Angeles Clippers in LA on Thursday.