by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Rich Scuteri of AP Photo.
Currently, on a three-game losing streak, the Utah Jazz (12-9) look to end that streak against the surging Phoenix Suns (12-6).
A Mirage of Buckets
Utah started off the game with an offensive spark that usually isn’t seen till later in the game. For the entirety of the quarter, Utah held the lead from the first bucket from Kelly Olynyk (10/6/3). As Collin Sexton (20/2/5) grows as a passer, fitting into his new role has been a small celebration for himself. Getting overfilled with joy after each assist, this positive attitude is one that Utah fans should be excited to see. His ability to facilitate led Utah to shoot a 13/21 (61.9%) quarter lead to a 32-22 lead to end the quarter.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “birthday bucket Beasley https://t.co/jeYgWCxEZ0” / Twitter
In the second quarter, Utah managed to lose its spark. Shooting 8/21 (38.1%) to Phoenix’s 11/18 (61.1%), Utah’s lead began to disappear. Even with a 10-point lead, Utah managed to allow the lead to slip away midway through the second quarter. Lauri Markkanen (15/10/2) finishing the half with one point on 0/6 (0%) shooting isn’t going to help push their lead. Jordan Clarkson (22/5/5) leading Utah with 12 points, made a floater just before the half expired to give Utah a 54-51 lead.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “big man moves from the rook https://t.co/f4oQQUvM9P” / Twitter
Dry as the Desert
Utah wasn’t able to break away from Phoenix’s offense. Deandre Ayton (29/21/3) already had an explosive first half scoring 11 points and eight rebounds, Utah allowed him to score at will. Devin Booker (27/11/7) also scored at will, scoring 14 points in the quarter. Without Booker, Phoenix shot 5/13 (38.5%) and 0/4 (0%) from three. Even with that shooting, Utah wasn’t able to pull away scoring evenly with Phoenix 27-27 for the quarter ending the quarter with an 81-78 Utah lead.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “16 points & counting https://t.co/MPT8g994NC” / Twitter
The fourth quarter became a battle of who would play less defense. Even Utah coach Will Hardy made mention of the lack of defense in the fourth. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (12 points) tried to keep Utah in the game shooting 4/4 (100%) from three but his plus/minus (-12) showed that Phoenix was able to respond to his offense.
Our defense let us down in the 4Q — didn’t get a stop the first 11 minutes, didn’t rebound the ball, didn’t execute on the final possession. I take responsibility for that; obviously didn’t communicate well. Wanted to get the ball out of Booker’s hands and then foul.Will Hardy speaking about Utah’s fourth quarter defense via Eric Walden Twitter- @tribjazz
With Ayton becoming the NBA prospect fans expected of him, grabbing five offensive rebounds in the quarter, Phoenix’s game plan shifted to him. Even after two made free throws from Clarkson to put Utah within one, Phoenix managed to hold onto the ball long enough to stop Utah. After yet another rebound by Ayton as time expired, Utah lost 113-112 making it their fourth straight loss.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “🏹 Markksman 🏹 https://t.co/7djDgwzxKb” / Twitter
Utah returns home for a six-game homestand starting Monday against the Chicago Bulls (8-11). The game will be broadcasted on AT&T SportsNet.