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Recap: Jazz pull away late, keep starters in to ensure a 20-point margin over Suns

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NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the Bulls win earlier tonight, the Suns loss to the Jazz has guaranteed them one of the three worst records and the highest possible chance at the top overall pick in the draft this summer (at 14%).

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Devin Booker has (likely) been lost for the season’s last three games (ankle), making it five starters being lost to injury this year now.

The scrappy Suns backups had the Jazz a little nervous, keeping it to five points with just five minutes left in the game.

But then Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell took over and the Jazz ran out to a 20-point win.

Coach Quin Snyder decided to keep his starters in the game until Joe Ingles had made his sixth three and the Jazz were up 21 with less than a minute left. They vaunted Mitchell, Gobert and Ingles did their damage against Jimmer, Troy, Richaun, Jackson and Bridges. Nice job, Quin. Real pro. Make sure you get that 20-point margin. Don’t forget this, Igor.

Jazz win 118-97.

Out

Out for Jazz: two starters — Jae Crowder and Derrick Favors — and two backups, Dante Exum and Kyle Korver

Out for Suns: three starters — Deandre Ayton, Tyler Johnson, Kelly Oubre Jr.. Then Devin Booker went down with a rolled ankle after 8 minutes of play, going to the line with a 9-point lead.

First half

The Suns shocked the listless Jazz with a 10-0 run to start the game. Everyone was being aggressive across the lineup.

They blew it up to 17-4 on an aggressive drive and finish by Dragan Bender even, which saw everyone in the starting lineup on the scoreboard in a balanced attack.

Then Booker rolled his ankle, was helped off the court... aaaannnnnd it’s Dancing Grannies time! Gotta cheer up that crowd. Fans always love watching old ladies grab their hips and gyrate like a youngun.

Ray Spalding replaced Booker in the starting lineup... and bricked Booker’s free throws.

Loudest cheer of the night: Jimmer walking up to the scorer’s table.

Now the lineup has Ray Spalding, Jimmer, Troy Daniels, Josh Jackson and Dragan Bender... and the Jazz are starting to attack the rim on every possession.

Suns up just 31-25 after one quarter. This lead feels fleeting. Could be the Suns last end-of-quarter lead for the year if Booker is out.

Somehow the Suns stayed competitive in the first part of the second quarter by mucking up the game and forcing dueling turnovers.

But then the Jazz woke up. Every action was either pick and roll with Gobert, or hard passes around wing for a three. On the other end, the Suns inexplicably went after Gobert hard and Gobert won. Jazz flew out 48-42 lead.

For the Suns, Elie Okobo had 13 first half points. He was aggressive all half, and it was much needed.

By halftime, Joe Ingles had four threes (4-4 on threes, 17 points), Gobert had three blocks and the Jazz had a 56-53 lead.

Second half

I worry about this second half, folks. A lot. If the Suns don’t get blown out by 30 I’ll be surprised.

Man, does Gobert affect shots. The Suns played hard coming out of the break but often short-armed shots in the paint.

The Suns somehow scrapped it out to pull within two points (70-68) in the third while playing a ragtag group of merry men against the vaunted Jazz, but could not keep up the magic.

The Jazz lead got out to 82-72 pretty quickly, their biggest lead of the game.

The Suns still scrapped, though. The end of three, the Jazz lead was only 84-76.

Leaders for the Suns at this point:

  • Elie Okobo, 15 points, 2 assists
  • Richaun Holmes, 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a block
  • Suns bench has 30 of the Suns 76 points — Fredette, Melton, Jackson, Spalding and Daniels all contributing

Even in the fourth, the Suns stayed in it for the most part. They pulled within FIVE points halfway through the quarter.

But the Jazz were too much.