UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Suffer Ugly Loss To Suns

Oct 28, 2023, 11:15 PM

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns watches from the bench during the second half of the NBA game a...

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns watches from the bench during the second half of the NBA game against the Utah Jazz at Footprint Center on October 28, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz suffered their second ugly loss in three games after getting smothered by the Phoenix Suns 126-104.

Kevin Durant poured in 26 points while Eric Gordon scored all 21 of his points in the first half.

Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 19 points in the loss.

Scheduled Loss, But Still Ugly

Truthfully, this game could have been chalked up as a loss as soon as the Jazz released their schedule in August.

After playing against the uber-talented Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, the Jazz faced a quick turnaround traveling to play the Suns in their Phoenix home opener.

Through their first three games, the Jazz have faced teams that went a combined 137-109 last season, all of whom are expected to be more competitive this year.

From 30,000 feet, the Jazz 1-2 start is anything but a disaster.

But at ground level, two of the Jazz’s three performances so far this season have been underwhelming.

Against the Kings, the Jazz found themselves trailing by 12 two minutes into the second half and never closed the deficit to fewer than double-digits for the remainder of the game.

In Phoenix, the Suns built a 60-50 lead with one minute left to play in the first half, and again the Jazz never got any closer.

Fatigue was certainly a factor, and it was apparent from the team’s sloppy play resulting in seven first quarter turnovers.

But considering the Suns were playing without two of their top three players, and many of their lineups have rarely shared the floor together, you’d expect the Jazz to be more competitive.

With reigning champion Denver Nuggets next on the Jazz schedule, the team’s problems might get worse before they get better.

How Has Talen Horton-Tucker Played In Three Starts?

Talen Horton-Tucker was named to the Jazz starting backcourt to open the season with coach Will Hrady pointing to the guard’s defense and fit alongside Jordan Clarkson and Lauri Markkanen as a key to the decision.

Through three games, the guard’s play has been a mixed bag.

Horton-Tucker is averaging 7.3 points, 4.3 assists, and 1.3 rebounds while shooting 27 percent from the floor and 33 percent from the floor.

In addition to his lack of rebounding, there have been some difficult defensive assignments that have left the Jazz vulnerable with the 22-year-old on the floor.

However, it hasn’t all been bad.

In three outings the Jazz have been outscored by a combined 36 points against the Kings, Clippers, and Suns. But they have been slightly less bad with Horton-Tucker on the floor rather than off.

The Jazz are a -.21 points per minute with Horton-Tucker on the floor and a -.27 points per minute with him off the court.

It’s early, and the Jazz have faced a slew of difficult teams to begin the season, so it may not yet be time to abandon the Horton-Tucker experience.

However, with the increasingly impressive play from rookie Keyonte George who scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out six assists in 27 minutes against Phoenix, the leash for Horton-Tucker can’t be long.

Nightly Awards

In a new feature for Jazz games this season, we’ll be handing out nightly awards based on performances from each contest. Here is our first edition.

The Linas Kleiza ‘That Guy Cooked the Jazz‘ Award goes to:

Eric Gordon who scored 21 points in 17 first-half minutes before going scoreless in the second half. This award could easily be called the Eric Gordon ‘That Guy Cooked the Jazz’ Award for the number of times he’s had impressive performances against Utah.

The Jared Butler ‘This Ain’t the Preseason Anymore‘ Award goes to:

Kris Dunn who after a brilliant preseason has yet to show up for the Jazz through the first three games.

After shooting a staggering 85 percent from the floor and 66 percent from three in five preseason outings, Dunn is shooting a combined 7-20 from the floor including 0-4 from the three-point line.

The ‘I Was Right About Him‘ Award goes to:

Grayson Allen who I liked heading into the draft, even though many thought he was a reach in the first round. The guard is starting on a team expected to compete for a title, and had an impressive 17 point, four rebound, three assist outing against the Jazz for the Suns.

Utah Jazz’s Next Broadcast

The Jazz will face the Nuggets on Monday at 7 pm MST in Denver. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Jazz Suffer Ugly Loss To Suns