The Jazz experienced their first road game of the season tonight in Phoenix versus a Suns team missing Booker and Beal and lost 126-104.
Right from the tip, John Collins was active, scoring the first four points of the game. The Suns quickly struck back with the assist of several Utah Jazz turnovers. Phoenix scored 10 straight points and by the first game break, Phoenix had built a 14-7 lead.
Despite turnovers being a persistent problem for the Jazz, they managed to bring the game closer mid-way through the first quarter. This was in large part due to Clarkson stepping up his leadership and scoring a quick six points after huddling the team up following a messy start.
Despite a nice mid-quarter push, the Jazz dug themselves back into a hole with a bad combo of more turnovers - they had seven in the first quarter alone - and not having an answer for Kevin Durant - who scored 10 points in the first - the Jazz ended the first quarter with a 37-27 deficit.
That meant it was time for some Markkanen magic. The Finisher started knocking down three-pointers while also getting a nice block on the defensive end. Finally, rookie Keyonte George scored a layup to cut the Suns lead to five and forced a timeout early into the second quarter.
Eric Gordon - who seems to be licking his chops every time he plays the Jazz - led another Suns run to push the lead back to 11 as he became the games leading scorer mid-way through the second with 21 first-half points. An unfortunate series of events in the closing minute of the first half saw Utah try to beat the shot clock on a wild corner three which led to a Suns fast break where they got three the old-fashioned way. Then, after a missed call on Keven Durant, Sexton turned the ball over and the Suns capitalized again taking a 16-point lead into the half.
The Jazz’s woes continued into the second half as it was Grayson Allen’s turn to catch fire as he scored 14 points in the third quarter alone. The Jazz played some uninspired defense and it helped the Suns extend their lead to 28 points mid-way through the third.
Virtually nothing went well for the Jazz the rest of the third quarter either as the Suns lead ballooned to 33 until ultimately finishing the quarter leading the Jazz by 28.
But the fourth quarter! That’s where the magical comeback happens... is what we all wish we could say. Instead, the Jazz dropped their first road game to move to 1-2 on the season.
Player of the game:
This was a rough one, but the player of the game was a mostly easy pick. Lauri Markkanen had an efficient 19 points including making five of seven threes.
Keyonte George saw an increase in minutes tonight and responded with 12 points, six rebounds, and six assists. He is the only player that gave me pause when determining the player of the game.
The Jazz’s schedule doesn’t get any easier as they visit Denver to take on the defending champ Nuggets at 7 PM MST.