UTAH JAZZ

Jazz End 2020 With A Thud In Home Loss To Suns

Dec 31, 2020, 10:15 PM
Phoenix Suns wing Mikal Bridges (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)...
Phoenix Suns wing Mikal Bridges (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz closed out the 2020 year in a very fitting fashion. Much like the year, the first quarter was fine, albeit unspectacular. The rest of the year err… quarters were pretty much a dumpster fire as the Phoenix Suns gradually pulled away and keep the Jazz winless on their home floor with a 106-95 victory.

The Jazz led 22-21 after the first quarter, but the Suns turned that into a 13 point half-time lead which they maintained through the third quarter until ultimately winning by 11.

For the third straight game, the Jazz found themselves playing from behind for most of the second half, but unlike Monday night’s win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Jazz never closed the gap.

Suns Are What Jazz Want To Be

While most rosters in the NBA are trying to make sure they have the same bases covered (shooters, rangy defensive wings, a go-to scorer, veteran experience) the Jazz and Suns are built surprisingly similarly.

Chris Paul and Mike Conley bring veteran point guard experience. Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker are star shooting guards. Royce O’Neale and Mikal Bridges bring floor spacing and defense. Jae Crowder and Bojan Bogdanovic are big-bodied three-point shooters. While Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Ayton are rim-running big men.

What was incredible to watch was how much better the Suns did all of it than the Jazz Thursday night.

Paul scored just 11 points but was +12 on the night. Conley scored 16 for the Jazz but was -13 for the night.

Booker had an efficient 25 points on an efficient 10-17 shooting. Mitchell finished with 23 points on 9-23 shooting. He’s yet to have an efficient night this year.

Bridges may have been the biggest difference tonight, but that’s no slight to O’Neale. The Jazz wing did his job, scoring eight points and grabbing nine rebounds. Bridges was just significantly better.

The Suns wing scored 16 points on 6-9 shooting, including 4-6 from three to sink the Jazz. He was also the game’s best defender as he flustered both Bogdanovic and Mitchell for most of the night.

“They did a good job defensively,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of Bridges play. “They’re long and know they worked.”

Bogdanovic scored just three points on 0-5 shooting while grabbing just one rebound and handing out one assist. It was the worst game of Bogdanovic’s career, which is tough because that was true of the forward’s game Saturday night in the loss to Minnesota.

Crowder filled Bogdanovic’s role perfectly for the Suns scoring 16 points on 6-11 shooting and 4-9 from three.

The Jazz only real head to head win came with Gobert outbattling Jordan. Gobert finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds while holding Ayton to just four points and nine rebounds.

Off the bench, the Suns got big contributions from Jevon Carter and Cam Johnson who combined to shoot 8-9 from the floor for 19 points.

All four members of the Jazz bench finished with a negative plus-minus, led by Joe Ingles who was a game-worst -16.

Things that fit into the theme of 2020:

Since it’s the end of what has inarguably been a miserable year for most people around the world, let’s keep a list of moments from the game that fit well with the 2020 theme.

The game was delayed seven minutes because the rim was crooked before the tip-off. The arena crew got out the

Rudy Gobert’s free-throw shooting. He made just 1-4 attempts in the first quarter, giving the Suns an outlet where otherwise they had no answers for him at the rim.

Jordan Clarkson got a steal off an inbound pass after a made basket. Clarkson then ran into the official, dribbled the ball out of bounds, then shoved the ref and got a technical foul. He didn’t mean any harm by it, but he might end up getting fined for inappropriate contact with a ref.

Official Mark Ayotte appeared to roll his ankle and was limping up and down the floor for several possessions.

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 second quarter as a whole belongs on this list. The Jazz were outscored 32-18 and allowed Phoenix to shoot 54 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three. Meanwhile, the Jazz shot just 35 percent and 28 percent.

The Suns social media team uses the “I” pronoun when speaking for the team. It kills the vibe of the team over the individual.

Mike Conley passed up an open layup in favor of a Gobert dunk. Gobert proceeded to clank the dunk off the back of the rim leading to free-throws for the Suns.

Bojan Bogdanovic went 0-5 for the game in over 28 minutes played.

The Jazz allowed the Suns to shoot 48 percent from the floor and 51 percent from three on 33 attempts.

The Jazz can remedy the loss by earning their first home win of the season when they face the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. The Clippers 128-105 on Wednesday.

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