Defense Falters in Home Loss to Jazz

by Ben York

For the second night in a row, the Suns allowed the second-worst shooting team in the league to defy the odds. They escaped Friday night thanks to an even more lethal offensive performance of their own.

Saturday night, it cost them a win over the 2-15 Jazz.

Phoenix allowed Utah to shoot 51.9 percent from the field, which ended up hurting them more than the offensive rebounding woes from the previous two meetings. Jazz rookie Trey Burke scored a career-high 20 points to help his team win 112-104.

Goran Dragic led the Suns with 24 points and nine assists. Channing Frye added 17 points and P.J. Tucker threw in 13 points, five rebounds and three steals for Phoenix, which fell short of securing its first three-game winning streak of the season.

“You can never give a team easy shots, easy buckets early in the game, because that usually transfers throughout [the game],” said Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. “We just didn’t have the effort tonight.”

Phoenix once again got off to a slow start while allowing Utah to get into a rhythm early. It stuck for the rest of the game, in which the Jazz scored at least 28 points in three of the four quarters.

The Suns struggled to find consistency on offense, particularly late in the game. Trailing by five with 3:19 left, Eric Bledsoe (13 points) missed a three-pointer and a pair of free throws. Dragic turned the ball over, Tucker recovered it, but Marcus Morris missed a driving layup.

Burke added to Phoenix’s late game struggles, hitting the last of his four three-pointers to keep the game out of reach.

“They were faster to the ball,” Frye said. “They were executing their offense. We just let them run their stuff. Regardless of their record, they’re an NBA team. They have great NBA players. For us, tonight was one of those games where I felt like we weren’t emotionally invested. We can’t have games like that. We’re not good enough for that.”

Phoenix finishes the month of November with a 9-8 record, putting them in a three-way tie for eighth in the Western Conference, as well as for second place in the Pacific Division with Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Suns return to the road for a back-to-back set at Houston on Tuesday and at Memphis on Wednesday.