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Rapid Recap: Booker drops 49 points, Suns can’t overcome Markkenan and the Jazz

Tough loss on the road, 134-133.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns traveled to Salt Lake City on Friday night to take on the Utah Jazz, a team that entered on a three-game losing streak. That losing streak was snapped following a 134-133 victory by the Jazz..

It was an uphill battle for the Suns most of the evening as they fell behind by 19 points early. Lauri Markkanen scored a career high 38 points, Malik Beasley added 27 points off of the bench on 7-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc, and Jordan Clarkson had 20.

Booker did all he could, scoring 49 points for the Suns, but ultimately the team fell short and move to 9-6 on the season.

Game Flow

First Half

Phoenix would once again be without Chris Paul as he missed his fifth consecutive game with a heel injury.

Utah came out hot, building an early 13-3 run to start the game on the back of Mike Conley’s three-point shooting and the Suns putting the Jazz in and-1 opportunities. Phoenix wouldn’t hit their second field goal until substitutions had occurred and there was 8:09 left in the first. Of course Conley responded with another 3, going up 22-6.

Cool. I get to cover another one of these nights.

The Suns defense looked flat out of the gate, letting the Jazz get to their spots. Utah took advantage, shooting 57.7% in the first quarter. They assisted on their first 10 buckets, moving the ball around and finding gaps in the Suns’ lackadaisical defense.

Devin Booker led an 13-1 Phoenix run to get the Jazz lead down to 4 as he scored 14 first quarter points and assisted his teammates 6 times. He had the fight that the Suns needed while some of his other fellow starters >>cough, Ayton, cough << looked lost, unfocused, and unengaged. Keep watching others play, DA. Who needs to box out or put any effort on the glass.

Despite being down 19 in the first, the Suns trailed by just 7 after one, 42-35.

If you ever hang around the Jazz sub-Reddit, you’ll learn real quick that Utah fans do not like Colin Sexton. He was, as one Redditor put it, a “black hole on offense and a matador on defense.” He was a -12 in the first half for the Jazz.

That didn’t stop Malik Beasley from catching fire, scoring XX off of the bench for the Jazz. He has assumed the Jordan Clarkson role. Bench flamethrower.

Booker got the Suns got close, but without much support of his teammates, the Jazz ballooned their lead back to 15 mid-way through the second. Lauri Markkanen was an and-1 machine as he scored 18 first-half points, 3 of which came from the line.

It was Devin again who put the Suns in striking distance as he narrowed the lead to 6 following a trip to the line.

It was a disappointing half as the suns gave up 74 points to the Jazz. Utah was led by Markkanen and Beasley, both of who had 18 points, as well as 11 from Clarkson and 10 from Conley. They shot 10-of-19 from beyond the arc, which gave them a +21 from beyond the arc as Phoenix went 3-of-14.

Devin Booker scored 23 of the Suns’ 66 points while dishing out 6 assists. Bridges added 10 points and Jock Landale had 7 off of the bench. Deandre Ayton had 6 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists.

The lead could have been bigger, but Utah shot 10-of-16 from the line...62.5%. Jazz 74, Suns 66.

Second Half

The second half opened with a personal foul — the fourth — by Mike Conley. Could this be how the Suns would get back in the game? Drawing fouls on the Jazz? Conley stayed in the game, negating the presence of Colin Sexton. Kelly Olynyk soon followed with his fourth as well.

Phoenix once again squeezed the deficit to four following a fast break dunk by Deandre Ayton.

Monty Williams kept his starters in for the majority of the third as he did not make a substitution until 4:31 in the period. At that point, every Suns’ starter had 3 fouls, except Cam Payne, who had 4.

The Suns kept fighting, closing it to a 93-92 deficit, but once again the Jazz denied the Suns from taking a lead. Utah responded with a quick 5-0 run.

Devin Booker tied the game at 105-105...yes, in the third quarter...on a 27-foot three-pointer, his 39th point of the game. He played the entire third, carrying his team as much as he could. The Suns trailed 107-105 after three.

Malik Beasley continued to be scorching hot, hitting two early three-pointers in the fourth. The Suns kept getting close, just weren’t getting over the hump. And their star, D Book, was still on the court willing his team to be relevant. He looked gassed. The defense was waning, the legs were gone on the jumper.

Monty finally gave Booker a break as the Suns were down 7 with 9 minutes left. Could anyone step up?

Cam Payne responded with 5 quick points for the Suns. Bridges blocked Olynyk. And Booker re-entered the game.

And with 7:25 left, following an offense board by Ayton, Damian Lee hit a three-pointer that finally put Phoenix ahead, 121-120. Plenty of basketball to play. But that shot felt good.

The middle minutes of the fourth were a high energy battle as the Jazz and Suns went back and forth, trading daggers and turnovers, hustle plays and three-point hits.

Down 2, the Suns had three offensive rebounds at the rim, but couldn’t put the ball in the cylinder. Lauri Markkanen responded with an easy layup on the other end. It was that kind of night.

The Suns cut it to one following an Ayton and-1 with 1:01 left, 132-131. Markkanen responded again, this time making a circus fall away 21-foot jumper. Great defense. the shot you want the opposition to take. Again, that kind of night.

Cam Payne traveled on the next possession. Phoenix had a shot with 4.8 seconds, down three, but couldn’t get it down.

The Suns just could not overcome the energy of the Jazz. Torrey Craig had a solid outing, scoring 16 points and snagging 6 boards. Ayton had 17 points and a career high 8 assists.

Up Next

The Suns head home to play the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon.

We’ll see you then!

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