WHAT A GAME
The Suns were into it. The Jazz were into it. The CROWD was into it. Best I’ve felt at a game in a long long time.
The whole second half was a dog fight. Big shot after big shot. Offensive rebounds at key points by both teams. Most of the fourth quarter was a one-possession game.
Deandre Ayton was HUGE in the fourth quarter with several offensive rebounds to keep the Suns alive.
When Jae Crowder hit a three to put the Suns up 100-96, Crowder and the crowd went nuts.
The Suns had a three-point lead with less than 30 seconds left but somehow Devin Booker’s floater rimmed out, and Donovan Mitchell drained a game-tying three with 10.4 seconds left.
Suns ball. 10.4 seconds left. Booker misses at the buzzer. OT incoming.
Of course to start the OT, Booker MAKES the short shot while Mitchell clanks the three point attempt. The Suns kept a 3-6 point lead all fourth quarter, going down to the wire again with a 114-110 lead with 24.2 seconds left in OT after a Chris Paul miss. Jazz ball. Two quick points. Booker misses a free throw, and it’s Jazz ball with 10.6 seconds left, down three.
115-112 Suns. Jazz ball. Gotta prevent the three. Suns foul BEFORE THE SHOT, giving us two to Donovan Mitchell. Phew. Makes one of two. Suns up 115-113, have to foul... Chris Paul.
Paul swishes one.
Fans cheer ‘na na NA nam na na NA na, hey hey hey good bye’
Paul swishes second.
GAME. 117-113 Suns.
The Suns first game allowing as many as 5,500 fans in the arena sounded like a playoff roar. Big props to the Suns fans in the building, they really showed out with energy in this one. You could hear the swell of cheers on every play.
- Deandre Ayton 18 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals and huge fourth quarter plays
- Devin Booker 35 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
- Chris Paul 29 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds
HUGE games by the Suns best players.
How it happened
The Jazz scored the game’s first bucket but the Suns answered with a 13-0 run that got the crowd and the Utah Jazz coach quite hot.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder answered with a timeout to bring in a few subs to send a message to the Jazz starting five for coming out flat. Favors replaced a non-existent Ruby Gobert and Joe Ingles came in for an ineffective Mike Conley Jr. Those changes broke the Suns spell, sparking a 6-0 Jazz run where the Suns missed 4 straight easy jumpers.
I like how confident Ayton is playing in this one. He’s definitely THERE on every play. When he checked out for a breather, he left with 4/2/1 to Gobert’s 2/0/0.
But then the Jazz second unit — buoyed by the return of Gobert and Conley against Saric and Payne this time — befuddled the Suns, forcing misses on jumper after jumper. By the time the Jazz took the lead, 21-20, the Suns were down to 38% shooting. The Suns shooting slump coincided with Chris Paul’s rest time. Also, Devin Booker had 5 turnovers in the first quarter alone and missed 5 of 6 shots. That’s not good.
The Suns woke up again in the second quarter, taking a 36-29 lead on yet another great Chris Paul stint. That man knows how to play in big games.
This time the Suns held the momentum even after Paul took another break, going in 43-32 on a Cam Payne three and Booker pull-up in transition. It helps that Utah is 3-21 on threes so far. At least we can say they’re all contested by the Suns defense, which has to happen or Utah will blow you out.
The Suns, led by a now-hot Devin Booker, take the halftime lead 51-40 by simply playing their game and winning more plays than they lose, making their own luck.
At the half:
- Suns up 51-40
- Chris Paul 13/3, Devin Booker 16/1, Ayton 8/3 with 2 steals and a block
- Booker and Paul have taken half the Suns shots so far (21 out of 42)
- both teams bad on threes: Utah 3/22, Suns 3/12
- Suns lead in FTs: 10/12 vs. 3/5
Donovan Mitchell came out for five quick points to start the second half, but the Suns held firm and pushed the lead back to nine on an Ayton finish.
On the next possession, the Suns stopped the Jazz twice but could not secure possession and eventually Mitchell hit a three. hmph.
Suns and Jazz traded punches all third quarter. It got physical. Like Dario said pregame, that this could be a bar fight. Suns and Jazz are top-three on defense for a reason and they’re showing that to each other.
Eventually Utah got the lead though, making a few threes and getting some stops on the other end. Ultimately, the Jazz poured in 38 points in the third quarter alone, after scoring only 40 in the first half.
Suns took the lead back at the beginning of the fourth, 84-81 on a Craig three and Ayton slam.