The Utah Jazz could not keep up with the Phoenix Suns, and lost an important seeding game 91-82 to Jeff Hornacek 's team. The Suns had a very solid game from rookie guard Devin Booker. Quiet for most of the summer he busted out for 18 points, and finally was able to hit some threes. He went 2 for 5 after previously going 0 for 8. Most of us expected that he wouldn't continue shooting poorly, and he seemed to break out of his slump against Utah. The Suns were also happy to see some good play out of Alex Len (8 points, 14 rebounds), and Josh Harrellson (15 points, 9 rebounds) -- those three made sure that Summer League starts T.J. Warren and Archie Goodwin didn't have to do a lot. The team, though, shot 45% from downtown and generally played like the Suns -- making life hard for the Jazz. Utah was not ready for Phoenix's jelly. A few times they got back into the game, making it so far as to be able to take the lead -- but it never really happened. This was a wire to wire win for Phoenix. If you are looking for something to take solace in it's that Bryce Cotton finished with 13 points, and 6 assists. He, JaJuan Johnson, Jared Cunningham, and rookie Trey Lyles all finished in double digit points. Jack Cooley was clearly out-sized, and this is where we see his limitations in full. He can bruise and bully low skill guys or guys only a little bigger than him. But against actual NBA centers he is very ineffectual.
This loss hurts the Jazz in the standings.
- First of all we don't see them reach Top 8 status, and thus, there's no first round bye.
- Second, the Jazz who were 9th 24 hours ago are now 13th. Not only did the Phoenix Suns leap-frog the Jazz but so did a bunch of teams like the Los Angeles Lakers. For reals.
- Third, now these tired guys have to play a game today -- which will be their fourth game in five nights; and possibly even more devastating, their third game in a row. Adding in the Utah Summer League, it will be the 7th game in 10 nights.
Their opponents will be the 20th seeded (out of 24) Washington Wizards. The Wizards are giving big minutes to Kelly Oubre Jr., Scott Machado, Jarrid Famous, Scott Suggs, and Damion James. Ourbre Jr. is averaging 16.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, and 2.0 spg. Famous is adding 15.7 ppg, and 9.7 rpg. Machado rounds out their big three with 9.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, and 2.0 spg. They lost to the Suns and NBA D-League team, while beating the Dallas Mavericks last night. Their size will be an obstacle for the Jazz. Well, the summer league Jazz team.
And perhaps that's the perspective we have to take. There's no ego bonus to being a winner in the summer league. The Jazz brass are using this time to evaluate players, coaches, adjustments, and training techniques. The majority of the benefit to summer league is in all of the hours that include 7 games of 40 mins each. But those hours are the minority hours in the big picture. Fans want wins, and only really see the games. Coaches and front office types see so much more.
As a fan, though, you'd want to see this team do better than their first round exit from last season. The Wizards are supposed to be bad, but a few guys put up good stats. That's precisely what I wrote about the Suns yesterday, and they beat us handedly. I still hope for a win today. And if the Jazz advance they will then play the 4th seeded New Orleans Pelicans.They are powered by hot shooting Seth Curry, Larry Drew II, Victor Rudd, Khem Birch (Oh Canada!), and Fuquan Edwin.
The Wizards vs. Jazz game will be played at 6:00 pm MT, at the Cox Pavilion. Like all games it will be on NBA TV. But like all Jazz things ever on national tv, expect breaking news or a commercial break during most, if not all, of it.