Some games, it is clear that the ball is slick, and teams struggle to handle the ball. Lots of turnovers and sloppy basketball is the result. Then there are games where the ball is constantly on the ground and the teams pile up for a Rugby Scrum like a scene from The Three Stooges.
A lot of that happened this game with a punctuation on Alec Burks shoulder tackle of rookie Archie Goodwin.
Right before the half Burks caught the ball and tried a desperation heave at the buzzer from half court, like you know, in every other NBA game. Only this time he had the clever idea to shoulder tackle Goodwin then half heartily fling the ball at the rim. Tyrone Corbin earned a Technical Foul and Burks earned a stooge award for the night.
There is a fine line between confident while exceeding expectations and big timing the dregs of the league, like the Utah Jazz (3-15), which is precisely what the Phoenix Suns (9-8) did tonight. Sometimes it is tougher to get up for the lesser teams, but when you are the overachiever of the year there is no room for that.
In a home-and-home series with the Jazz the Suns took the first one, then the Jazz made a statement in the return match.
For the most part the game was dead even. When you look at the box-score it tells a very similar story. Each team was about identical in most categories from rebounding (39-35, Utah), to made field goals (39-37, Utah), to three's (12-9, Phoenix), and to total turnovers (8-12, Phoenix) which made the Jazz dominance in the second half perplexing to those that feed off box-score dumpster diving.
Dig a little deeper and the two numbers that matter the most ended up being second chance points, 25-13 Utah, and because of that; the final score 112-104, Utah.
It became a rugby match in the paint with Derrick Favors (14 points 8 rebounds), Enes Kanter (8 points 4 rebounds), and Jeremy Evans (12 points 4 rebounds) all making this game ugly inside.
The Suns were fueled by Goran Dragic monster first half (14 points 8 assists), but sputtered to the finish line as he finished with 24 points (11-13 free-throws) and 9 assists total. The team looked disjointed in the second half with a lack of effort, love of the three, and defensive miscues.
Dragic was the lone bright spot as the rest of the team managed only 8 total assists as a team and 12 free-throw attempts.
For the Jazz they got a career night from their rookie Trey Burke as he stepped up with 17 second half points (3-5 threes) on his way to a personal best 20 points.
The Jazz scored their season high in points (previous high 111 against New Orleans) and were 00.1% off their season high in field goal percentage, same game. This loss drops the Suns to 9-8 and was another wake-up call for them in terms of getting up for every opponent. They did not have the same energy that has become a staple of theirs this season tonight. Have to have that when you do not have elite level talent.