Suns' Stingy Defense, Bench Performance Lead to Win Over Jazz

by Cody Cunningham

After starting the season 0-3, the Suns have found a new spark under Interim Head Coach Jay Triano that has showed improvements in all aspects of their game.

The Suns came out firing against the Jazz on Wednesday night, but what was most impressive was their defense. Phoenix held Utah to just 13 first quarter points and by the end of the third, the Suns were up 71-59.

“I was pleased with the way we defended,” Triano said. “They’re embracing the fact that we’re playing really hard at that end of the floor and they’re taking it upon themselves. The offense will take care of itself if we play like that on the defensive end.”

One of the most impressive defensive plays came midway through the first quarter, when Devin Booker sprinted down the court to catch Joe Ingles for the chase-down block off the backboard.

“In the years I’ve been here, I haven’t seen Devin this focused at the defensive end of the floor,” Triano said. “I think he can be a very good defender and I think over the last few games he’s proved that.”

Booker said following the game that defense was what he focused on all summer.

“Even when I’m playing pick up games, because I’m not in shape in the summer, I’d come in and say ‘I’m just playing defense today and on offense I’m just going to relax,” Booker said. “Just coming in with a defensive mindset. I still have a lot to work on obviously, but the better effort helps out a lot.”

The Suns closed out the game winning 97-88 in large part to do with their contributions off the bench. Alex Len (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Tyler Ulis (13 points, 5 assists) helped lead the Suns second unit to outscore Utah’s 38-9.

“Alex has been playing really well since preseason,” Booker said. “We need him to be active and that’s what he’s been doing on the offensive boards and defensive. He’s been getting better defensively also. I know he’s making it hard for the other bigs on the other team.”

TJ Warren led the team in scoring with 27 points to go along with his five rebounds.

“TJ Warren tonight was great,” Triano said. “I think he’s starting to get a feel for what he can do and where he can go on the floor.”

Tyson Chandler is seeing a vast improvement as the team is coming together and the young players are continuing to grow.

“I’m seeing maturity out of a lot of the young fellas to be honest,” Chandler said. “I think that’s the biggest difference. Ball movement, slashing, getting a better understanding of strengths, weaknesses and play off of that.”

The Suns look to continue this hot streak as they hit the road for Saturday’s matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers. Catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.