Suns Fall in Final Second in Defensive Battle vs Jazz

Devin Booker
by Cody Cunningham

The Phoenix Suns tipped-off against the Utah Jazz on Monday night as the NBA’s top two teams in terms of Net Rating went head-to-head. It was clear early on that it was going to be a hard-fought battle on the hardwood as both teams seemed evenly matched and that defense was going to be key.

Aron Baynes got things going for the Suns on the scoreboard as he hit yet another three-pointer in the opening quarter, which is turning into a regular occurrence early in games. Despite eight early points from Frank Kaminsky, the Suns found themselves down by six at the end of the first quarter, but still had plenty of time to bounce back. 

Both teams seemed to lock down defensively in the second quarter and the shooting percentages for each squad reflected that. The Suns and Jazz held each other to just 18 points apiece in the second quarter and combined to shoot just 30.8 percent from the field in the first half.

The Suns entered the third quarter down by seven, but an offense led by Baynes and Kelly Oubre Jr. began to hit it’s groove and claw away at the deficit. The high-energy duo combined for 15 of the team’s 31 third-quarter points as the Suns tied the game at 70 entering the fourth.

Frank Kaminsky was fouled early in the fourth quarter as he went to the line and gave the Suns the lead. The Suns seemed to then receive contributions from almost every player on their roster from a Cam Johnson three-pointer to a Devin Booker midrange jumper to a Ricky Rubio layup.

But just as the Suns fought back in the third quarter, the Jazz followed with a similar comeback. With two minutes left in the game, Donovan Mitchell sprinted up the court on a fast break and threw down a two-handed slam to tie the game at 92. The Jazz then forced another turnover on the Suns next possession which resulted in a three-point play for Bojan Bogdanovic. 

The Suns found themselves trailing by three with under a minute remaining. 

A breakdown of the Suns next possession (all within the 24 second shot clock):

Booker dribbles the ball up.

Booker passes to Carter from the top of the arc.

Carter immediately passes it back to Booker.

Booker runs around a Kamisnky screen to the right.

Booker feeds the ball back to Kaminsky at the top of the arc.

Kaminsky immediately passes left to Carter.

Carter finds Rubio in the paint.

Rubio dribbles out to the corner with Rudy Gobert defending.

Rubio drives back into the paint and tries to fake out Gobert.

Rubio throws it back to the top of the arc to Carter.

Carter puts the ball on the ground and takes a step to the left as the defender flies past him.

Carter launches the three.

Shot clock buzzer goes off.

Swish.

Tied game.

The ball movement, unselfishness and patience on that Suns possession set them up with the game-tying bucket to keep themselves in the game.

However, that would be the final shot the Suns would make as the Jazz received the ball with seven seconds remaining. Mitchell drove to the paint, drew the foul and closed out the game at the free throw line, defeating the Suns 96-95. The Suns are now 2-2 on the season, with both loses coming in one-point games. 

KEY PERFORMERS:

Booker: 21 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal

Oubre: 18 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals

Rubio: 10 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists

Carter: 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals

Baynes: 12 points, career-high 3 three-points, 3 rebounds

Kaminsky: 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists 

KEY STAT:

The Suns held the Jazz to 38.0% shooting tonight. By keeping the Jazz below 40%, this is the third time in four games this season that the Suns have held their opponent below 40% from the field. In 2018-19, the Suns held their opponent below 40% three times for the entire season.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING:

HEAD COACH MONTY WILLIAMS ON JEVON CARTER: “Yeah, he’s a gamer. You know he makes big shots without D.A. (Deandre Ayton) and some of the lineups we had out there, it’s hard to call plays. He is playing off the ball which he doesn’t do sometimes or a lot. For him to come off and takes the shots, for me it’s a biggie, but he makes them and he’s not afraid of them. For me, he is a guy that I can rely on in those moments, he is not afraid of taking big shots.”

JAZZ HEAD COACH QUIN SNYDER ON SUNS: “They play hard for one thing. I thought they were physical with us defensively. They took us out of our comfort zone. They’re just a competitive group, and it’s a credit to Monty and credit to the players on their team. That’s why they’ve played as well as they have, they’re a good team.” 

WHAT’S NEXT:

The Suns travel to San Francisco to tip-off against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.

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