Jazz Show High Potential, Rust In Win Over Suns

Dec 14, 2020, 11:02 PM
Trent Forrest of the Utah Jazz passes against Jevon Carter of the Phoenix Suns (Photo by Alex Goodl...
Trent Forrest of the Utah Jazz passes against Jevon Carter of the Phoenix Suns (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –  The Utah Jazz showed just how high their ceiling can be in their 111-92 win over the Phoenix Suns Monday night. They also showed that there may be some rust to shake off before they’re firing on all cylinders.

The Jazz had a clunky first half that was riddled with turnovers and poor shooting. The team’s starters had 11 of the 13 first half turnovers, led by Joe Ingles who gave the ball away five times in just 16 minutes.

It took the Jazz four minutes to find their first points, a three-pointer from Bojan Bogdanovic, though the Suns slow start never allowed the lead to grow to larger than six points in the first quarter.

Jazz Rusty Guards

With Mike Conley back into the lineup, the Jazz had three ball handlers on the floor to open the game with Ingles, Conley, and Donovan Mitchell. Despite the vast experience, no player looked comfortable initiating the offense.

“I think it’s taking time to kind of work through it,” Conley said of the Jazz three guard lineup. “We end up find ourselves fighting for the outlet sometimes just trying to figure out who’s bringing the ball up.”

Mitchell had three turnovers of his own, while Conley was held to just 1-6 shooting playing mostly off the ball.

Though the Jazz strugled offenisvely, their defense allowed them to hang around until their shots started to fall.

The Suns were held to just 15 first quarter points despite jumping out to a 6-0 lead. The Jazz held Phoenix to just 48 first half points on 41 percent shooting and 33 percent from three.

“We’re going to have nights like that we don’t come out strong offensively,” Mitchell said. “And the biggest thing since I’ve been here is we’ve got to make sure the diffence is something that can carry us.”

Jazz Offense Clicks

While the Jazz defense kept the game close, it was the offense that eventually blew the game open.

The Jazz closed the second quarter on an 8-0 run, building a 49-48 lead that grew in the third quarter. After the break, the Jazz scored the first 13 points of the third quarter and effectively ended the game with nearly 24 minutes left to play.

“Last game was our offense pushing the pace and this game was our defense carrying us throughout the third quarter,” Mitchell said. “Today we showed what happens when you combine both.”

In total, the Jazz scored 21 points over eight consecutive possesions that ended in made baskets or free-throws, and turned a 41-48 deficit into a commanding 62-48 lead, and they did in just 3:08 of game time.

The Jazz scored 38 points in the third quarter while holding the Suns to just 22 points, which allowed the starters to rest over the final 12 minutes of the game as the Jazz coasted to an easy victory.

Trent Forrest Impresses

Much attention has been given to Udoka Azubuike and Elijah Hughes, the two Jazz players selected in November’s draft, but on Monday, it was undrafted guard Trent Forrest who stole the show.

The Suns opened the fourth quarter with most of their starting lineup on the floor going against the end of the Jazz bench. With Forrest running the show, the Jazz were able to keep the Phoenix stars from eating too far into the lead before waiving the white flag.

“You get put in a game and you’re having to guard Chris Paul, that can be intimidating,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “A guy that’s a perennial All Star and Hall of Famer, and I don’t think Trent got sped up.”

Forrest has had a quiet training camp for the Jazz, but has looked surprisingly steady in his limited time on the floor. The rookie guard finished with a modest statline of two points and three assists in eight minutes, but his impact was felt far beyond the box score.

“The thing that jumps off the page about Trent is he just wins,” Snyder said. “He’s the all-time winningest player in Florida State history. He’s a very cerebral player.”

The Jazz now head out on the road to finish the preseason against the Los Angeles Clippers on the Thursday. The team opens the regular season on December 23 on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers, and won’t return to Vivint Arena until December 26 when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves in the home opener.

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Jazz Show High Potential, Rust In Win Over Suns