Mikal Bridges came out aggressive on offense, creating multiple shots through contact, as did Deandre Ayton following last night’s 28 & 12 showing. Ayton collected an early strong dunk over a lackadaisical Utah defense:
Overall, the Phoenix Suns took their time with getting their shots settled into the game, especially from distance; 0-6 from distance in the first quarter. Utah, meanwhile, started 4-9 from beyond in the frame, helping them to a 32-22 lead over Phoenix after one.
In the second quarter, the Suns caught up thanks in part to Ayton, who was a real catalyst defensively, on the glass, and at the rim. However, Collin Sexton became a catalyst in his own right for the Jazz with consecutive and-one takes to the rim down the stretch of the half.
Down just three at the break, Ayton led the Suns in scoring and rebounding in the first half with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Bridges joined him in double figures with 10 on 4-4 shooting. Suns shot 2-4 from deep in the second after 0-6 in the first.
Ayton cleared the double-double mark early in the second half as he amassed even more free throw attempts. He continued his strong play throughout his stint in the third, which lasted a little longer than normal, possibly a response to last night’s rotation situation; many felt like Ayton should’ve gotten more minutes on a night where he had it going.
Landry Shamet got his first points of the game late in the third, which is nice to see as he made his return from a long absence in the concussion protocols. Speaking of nice returns, Jock Landale started the fourth quarter after DNP’s in each of the last three games; he earned a few early tough buckets.
Fourth quarter was all about the Suns’ homegrown big 3 of Booker, Ayton, and Bridges all making huge key plays with consistent fighting possession after possession. Jazz finished with seven players in double figures and shot 13-32 (40.6%) from deep, so it took everything those main Suns had as they came away with the win 113-112.
Ayton was truly a monster for the entirety of this game any time he was out there. There will be more from me on this monster back-to-back that he’s put together in the coming days. But here’s how his line looked at the end of Saturday night’s contest: 29 points (11-18 FG), 21 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, and only 1 personal foul.
- Booker: 27 points (8-27 FG), 11 rebounds, and 7 assists
- Bridges: 16 points (7-10 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal
Suns improve to 13-6, extend their win streak to 4, and now have a full game ahead of 2nd-place Denver and two full games ahead of tied-for-3rd-place New Orleans, Memphis, and Portland.
Up next, the Suns (13-6) have a quick road trip to Sacramento against the Kings (10-8), who have lost two in a row following a seven-game win streak. Bally Sports AZ will broadcast the game, which tips at 8 p.m. AZ time on Monday.