UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Come Up Short Against Ayton, Suns

Nov 26, 2022, 10:18 PM

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Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton dunks against the Utah Jazz (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz lost a nail-biter in the Phoenix 113-112 dropping their fourth straight game and the seventh of their last nine.

Jordan Clarkson scored 22 to lead the Jazz while Deandre Ayton had 29 points and 21 critical rebounds to lead Phoenix.

The Jazz now return to Salt Lake City where they will play eight of their next nine.

Jazz Had No Answer For Ayton

Despite the Jazz being better than expected to start the season, it’s clear they still miss three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

Ayton’s 29-point, 20-rebound double-double marked season highs in both points and rebounds, was his best game of the season, and by far the best game he’s ever had against the Jazz.

Though it wasn’t as dominant as Joel Embiid’s historic 59-point, 11-rebound, eight-assist, seven-block performance earlier in the month, the Jazz were just as helpless to stop Ayton in the fourth quarter, especially on the glass.

Ayton recorded six rebounds in the fourth quarter, all of them on the offensive end, as the Jazz allowed the Suns to score 35 points in the loss.

“We don’t have one player on our team who can gobble up 18 defensive rebounds,” Will Hardy said. “So it takes that secondary guy, third guy sometimes, coming in to help rebound. I thought late in the game obviously we didn’t do that very well.”

The Jazz were outrebounded by the Suns 48-40 and lost the turnover battle 12-6, totaling 14 extra possessions for Phoenix in what amounted to a one-point loss.

Against the Suns, the Jazz had three rebounds total in the fourth quarter.

Over the last nine seasons, the Jazz were able to rely on Gobert’s terrific defense and rebounding in the fourth quarter to end offensive possessions in close games.

Right now, the Jazz are showing their ability to keep games competitive, but if they can’t end possessions in the fourth quarter because of opposing big men, they’ll continue to lose close games late.

Jazz Spend Next 13 Days At Home

The Jazz have lost seven of their last nine games but have an opportunity to push themselves back up the Western Conference playoff picture by playing eight of their next games in Utah.

The Jazz will play six straight at Vivint Arena beginning on Monday against the Chicago Bulls before hosting the Clippers, Pacers, Trail Blazers, Warriors, and Timberwolves before heading to Denver to face the Nuggets on December 10.

The team then returns to Utah for back-to-back games against the New Orleans Pelicans.

While the stretch is home-heavy, it’s not particularly light.

After facing the 8-11 Bulls, the Jazz next eight games are against teams that are .500 or better.

With 22 games down, the Jazz are more than a quarter of the way into the season and dropped to the eighth seed in the West with their loss to Phoenix.

How they fare over this long home stretch may determine whether they can make the playoffs this season or not.

Next Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls will tip off at 7 pm MT in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. The game will also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.

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Jazz Come Up Short Against Ayton, Suns