UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Vs. Suns: Game Night

Dec 31, 2020, 5:02 PM | Updated: 9:31 pm
Mikal Bridges and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
Mikal Bridges and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Welcome to KSL Sports Game Night. The Utah Jazz will face the Phoenix Suns on the final night of the 2020 calendar year in what should be the toughest test of their young season.

The Suns have the second-best record in the West standing 3-1 through four games. The Jazz own the West’s fourth-best record sitting alone at 2-1.

You can follow this Game Night page for updates throughout the night including pregame quotes from Jazz coach Quin Snyder, Jazz and Suns starting lineups, and updates and highlights from the biggest moments throughout the game.

Pregame Availability

The Jazz beat the Suns twice in the preseason after splitting the season series last year. However, the Suns were without Chris Paul in the two teams preseason meeting and were without former Jazzman Jae Crowder for both.

“Any success or challenges you’ve had against a team in the preseason I think you can pretty much throw that out the window,” Jazz coach Snyder said.

“They’re a different team than the team that we played in the preseason and we know that. And it’s challenging too, regardless of that, having to play a team three times in a short period of time.”

The Suns mark the beginning of a daunting challenge for the Jazz who play the Los Angeles Clippers on the second night of a back to back tomorrow before embarking on a seven-game road trip.

“There’s always a balance between establishing for yourself your identity and your habits and here’s what we do,” Snyder said of early-season games. “And then balancing that with things you need to adjust to in a given game to give you an opportunity to win the game.”

The Jazz have struggled in each of the last two games to start quickly and have had to overcome double-digit leads in the second half to keep the games close. The Jazz beat the Thunder on Monday thanks to Donovan Mitchell’s strong close to the fourth quarter but fell Saturday at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Minnesota and Oklahoma City were very different from Portland,” Snyder said. We see a different team again tonight in Phoenix. So I think it stretches you, it stretches your versatility, collectively, not just with respect to a given player but how a team can adjust.”

Starting Lineups

First Quarter

Donovan Mitchell hit his first two shots out of the gate and found Rudy Gobert for an easy dunk which is a good sign. He’s been a catalyst for the Jazz slow starts so seeing him in his groove is important.

DeAndre Ayton is really a pretty poor defender for his size so the Jazz should be able to take advantage of his missed rotations throughout the game.

Feels like for the first time this season the Jazz are really looking to Derrick Favors on the offensive end and Monty Williams is forced to call a timeout.

Favors scored on an easy roll to the basket, then had a mismatch against Cameron Payne but Joe Ingles missed him on the post up. Next possession, Favors scored easily over Cameron Johnson.

Phoenix’s low post defense is honestly terrible. The Jazz are getting easy lobs, layups, or free-throws anytime they are patient.

Gobert and Favors combined for 10 first quarter points, the Jazz need to make sure they continue to attack and find the opening.

Second Quarter

The Jazz have had a terrible second quarter giving the ball away and missing shots. Meanwhile the Suns are finding success attacking the Jazz defense.

Suns had 20 points halfway through the third quarter while the Jazz had only nine.

Royce O’Neale got a flagrant foul penalty one after a pretty clean swipe against Devin Booker. He definitely cocked his arm back, but the ends probably didn’t justify the call.

The Jazz don’t end the second quarter any better than they started it. Mikal Bridges wound up with a wide-open three to extend the Suns lead to 13 going into the break.

The Suns outscored the Jazz 53-40 in the second quarter. The Jazz managed to shoot just 35 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three for the quarter.

Third Quarter

The Jazz open the third quarter on a 9-2 run after hitting three quick threes.

It also means they can get back on defense and disrupt the Suns offense. Good start to the half after connecting on just 3-12 threes in the first half.

It’s felt like the Jazz are playing well, but the Suns knocked down back to back threes to keep lead safe.

This is what happened with Lu Dort and the Thunder and pretty much everyone on the Timberwolves roster. Jazz need to string together a few stops and get this closer at the end of the third quarter because they don’t have more experience than the Suns in closing games.

Bojan Bogdanovic is 0-3 on the game through three quarters. The Suns have done a nice job defending him, specifically Mikal Bridges who is quick enough to defend him closely, and long enough to contest his shot.

Still, as a 20 ppg scorer last season, he needs to get more looks.

The Suns close the quarter with back to back threes by Jevon Carter and Cam Johnson to extend maintain a 13 point lead going into the fourth quarter. Jazz down 83-70.

Fourth Quarter

The Suns quickly upped their lead to 21 out of the gate, and have kept the lead around that number for the first half of the quarter.

A mini Jazz run trimmed the lead to just 14 but the Suns continue to generate open threes that the Jazz are a step late to defend.

The Jazz trimmed the Suns lead to single digits, but an old fashioned three-point play pushed the lead back to 12 with 2:51 left in the game, dashing any real hopes of a comeback.

The Suns close out the game despite the Jazz trimming the lead to just five points with less than three minutes to play and win 106-95.

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