After coming out on fire, the Phoenix Suns went into the old deep freeze and scored only 39 points in the next three quarters before giving up at the two minute mark. Ultimately, the game ended 87-80 but it wasn't that close.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.
The Suns had a season-high 21 big turnovers (Jared Dudley had SIX of them) that allowed the Jazz to take control of the game despite running even on rebounds and shooting percentage.
Alvin Gentry said before the game that they needed to limit turnovers because those really killed the Suns, and that the Jazz would try to pound the ball inside.
Well the Jazz pounded it inside, and the Suns decided to commit a season high in turnovers. Guess that means you don't win game #2,000 right?
After the Suns came out smoking hot with 78% shooting in the first quarter, the Suns shot terribly the rest of the game and lost more and more energy as the minutes passed.
By the end, the Jazz didn't even need to play their best 5 guys to extend the lead. Paul Millsap dominated the game on both ends, and Al Jefferson made a ton o shots in the second half. They didn't even have to play those guys together all the time once they built a double digit lead in the third on a flurry of good possessions (and Suns turnovers).
Goran Dragic had 17 and 6, while Marcin Gortat had 18 and 10 with 3 blocks. But that didn't matter. Energy and execution mattered.
The first half was a tutorial on smart vs. not-smart basketball, put on by Alvin Gentry's rotation choices. In the first quarter, he put in his smartest players and they shot 78% on the way to a 6-point lead. At least the offense worked.
Then in the second quarter, Gentry put in the not-smartest basketball players and they did not do well as a unit. The second unit scored only five points on two field goals in more than seven minutes of play. Gentry even called timeouts but nothing helped. Even returning the starters only got them 4 more points the rest of the way.
Oh yeah, and all the while the Jazz just pounded the ball inside to the tune of 31 attempts in the paint for 32 of their 42 first half points.
The third quarter started off well with a Dudley jumper, but the Jazz heated up while the Suns began turning the ball over, and it was quickly an 13-point Jazz lead.
And there's the double-digit deficit! Phew. I thought we might go a game without one.
Gentry had a different sub rotation in the second half, bringing in a couple guys before the end of the quarter. But by then the Suns were playing so bad they made Alec Burks look good for a drive (before he missed two free throws without the Suns' help).
By the end of the third, it was a 9-point Jazz lead. Only Jared Dudley did well in that quarter with 9 points on 7 shots. The rest of the team only scored 13 points on 16 shots.
The Suns were getting beaten to every single loose ball, not even finishing the steal on deflections or blocks.
In the fourth, Millsap just owned Morris, spinning off Morris multiple ways to get free for layups. Morris also ignored Dragic on several possessions after rebounding a Jazz miss, instead giving the ball to Dudley or Brown who ran the offense after that.
The game was never close again.