In classic playoff style, the Utah Jazz give the fiery Suns a huge lead

In classic playoff style, the Utah Jazz give the fiery Suns a huge lead

A late scratch before the game started, Cam Payne was ruled out due to a sore right knee, giving Aaron Holiday primary ball-handling duties off the bench, but it didn’t matter.

Despite having lost up to 17 points in the fourth quarter, the phoenix suns He achieved one of his best wins all season.

The Suns outscored the Jazz 36-13 in the fourth quarter, a complete turnaround from the struggles of the first three quarters.

The Suns now have a team record of 64 wins and 32 road wins. The 32 away wins also tie a league record for away wins in a season.


First half:

The game started off pretty ugly with five straight misses before Chris Paul ended the points drought with a wide elbow jump shot. But for the Jazz, the scoring drought wouldn’t end so easily, as they missed each of their first eight shots and also committed two turnovers in that span of time.

The fourth was not even halfway through and seemed to be a Suns route as they led 11-0.

But once Bogdanovic scored Utah’s first basket of the game on a lopsided hook shot, the Jazz began to look alive. Over the next four minutes, the Jazz scored 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting (four 3-pointers) to make it a six-point game.

Phoenix finished the fourth up six points and they were very lucky to have moved up that much. Utah missed some open 3-pointers and due to Jordan Clarkson’s wild isolations, he couldn’t use all five of his offensive rebounds in the period.

The momentum continued with Utah in the second as they opened the fourth with back-to-back dunks by Hernangomez and Gobert followed by a fast-break layup by Danuel House to tie the game at 30.

The second quarter felt like the polar opposite of the first, as Phoenix was the team that couldn’t buy a basket. His first mark of the quarter came nearly five minutes into the period on a wide-open dunk by Deandre Ayton.

A big key for the Jazz in the first half was the bench game. Utah had 26 bench points compared to 4 for the Suns.

Up 51-41 with three minutes left in the half, Devin Booker took over. Book scored 11 points on four straight marks to give the Suns their first lead since the start of the quarter.

At the half, Utah led Phoenix 57-54.

Second half:

After those first few minutes to open the game, the Jazz never looked back. They started the second half hot, opening the quarter on a 15-6 run to extend their lead into double figures once again thanks to Mitchell and Bogdanovic.

The Suns’ struggles were exemplified by a 3-on-0 fast break that somehow turned into a turnover when a missed pass from Chris Paul bounced off Booker’s hands directly out of bounds.

It took Booker nine minutes to get his first basket of the second half, cutting the Jazz’s lead to eight.

Late in the third quarter, Booker stopped to shoot and Utah’s Danuel House was fouled on the shot, but after head coach Quin Snyder challenged the penalty, not only was it reversed, but the foul was now called on Booker for kicking his legs.

That was a big four-point turnaround for Utah, which already had a 12-point lead at the time.

To say that the third quarter was abysmal for Phoenix would be a huge understatement. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.

On the final play of the fourth, the Suns forced a Mike Conley floater to miss only for it to end as a dropback and one to Rudy Gobert. But then, when he missed his free throw, Utah secured the rebound and it was converted on Jordan Clarkson’s 3-pointer before the buzzer.

Somehow, forcing a miss increased the Suns’ deficit from 12 to 17 and the game was almost over.

Or was it?

Clearly, Phoenix can’t grasp (and doesn’t want to) the concept of losing games as they opened the fourth on a 10-3 run to get the game closer to 10.

Midway through the fourth, it was only an eight-point game and Booker still hadn’t seen the ground.

After an 11-0 run by the Suns, Utah led by just two with four minutes left and the game was anyone’s game. Phoenix had no stakes in this game, but they still played like their playoff lives were on the line.

After being nearly invisible for most of the game, Mikal Bridges took the ball from the 3-point line and made a nifty up-and-down layup through three-time Defensive Player of the Year Gobert to tie the game at 98. Suns had meteor boost on their side.

With less than two minutes left, the Suns got their first lead of the second half on a Bridges equalizer with less than 90 seconds remaining.

The nail in the coffin for Utah once again came from no. 25 when Bridges got a layup and one to give the Suns a two-possession lead and the game was over.

Jazz’s Twitter account even preemptively prepared for this inevitable meltdown.

In a pointless game that Phoenix could have given up on, they played their starters and pulled off the upset away win. The Suns proved tonight of all nights that they’re ready for the playoffs because they always take their opponents seriously, even if they shouldn’t.

Final score: Suns 111-Jazz 105

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