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Recap: Suns unable to overcome Utah’s relentless offense, lose second straight

Suns depth issues given injuries showed itself again on Sunday; could Payne be back Wednesday for Portland?

Utah Jazz v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns have lost two consecutive times for the first time in the 2022 calendar year after losing to the Utah Jazz on Sunday afternoon, 118-114. The team is now 1-2 since the Chris Paul injury. Hampered by bench production — the team only scored 11 from their reserves — the Suns now find themselves 49-12.

First Half

This one was all Suns early, though it didn’t look like it would be after the first 12 seconds when Utah’s Rudy Gobert blocked a Deandre Ayton elbow jumper and started running in transition, but Ayton was able to secure a stop running with him.

Phoenix proceeded to go on an 8-0 run, prompting an early Quin Snyder timeout.

Jazz woke up, and a very fun quarter played out. Devin Booker and Donovan Mitchell traded buckets, and JaVale McGee and Hassan Whiteside traded poster dunks.

Over the course of the second quarter, Utah operated at the top of their game offensively, scoring 56 points with six players scoring at least 6 points each.

Cam Johnson was the biggest reason among role players that the Suns went into the break with a lead, scoring 13 points and adding 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Here’s one of the assists:

The usual suspects, Booker and Ayton, combined for 29 points and 8 rebounds, with Ayton being the one with a three-point make:


Second Half

Third quarter had some silly trading of its own when Jae Crowder and Royce O’Neale were knocking down back to back to back to back triples early in the frame.

Later in the third as Utah made their push, the game came to a halt with the game’s pace landing at 92.8 (league average is 98.17) through three quarters and Phoenix trailing 94-89.

The Suns had a tough time stopping the bleeding whenever Booker was off the floor, since Johnson is unfortunately just a mere mortal.

Head coach Monty Williams admitted between quarters that the Suns were making some mental mistakes defensively, like Aaron Holiday going under screens against shooters, which he proceeded to do at the beginning of the fourth as well.

Overall the bench just didn’t do much to help out the cause, losing the scoring battle 11-43 against the Jazz second unit. Phoenix’s bench shot very poorly, just 4-19.

Phoenix was able to get a Booker corner three and a stop before a timeout at the 3:07 mark left in the game, down 104-110 and ready to make a run.

Suns were unable to do so because Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson decided to never miss again up until a coach’s challenge by Williams at the 1:19 mark reset momentum.

Suns covered some ground but it was too little too late because Crowder decided throwing the ball out of bounds is a cool thing to do, so Suns never got a shot at what would’ve been a game-tying three-point attempt.

Mike Conley hit the one free throw needed, and the Suns experience their first losing streak of 2022 and fall to 49-12 on the season, losing to surging Utah 114-118.


Takeaways

  • Suns really miss Cam Payne; three of the starters were at least +11, while Landry Shamet (-2 in 11 minutes) was the only bench player better than -12.
  • The Torrey Craig re-integration and Holiday integration will take longer than it initially seemed, especially without Chris Paul.
  • Booker and Ayton felt like a bona fide star duo, combining for 53 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists on 23-39 shooting (59%)
  • Offensive ratings: Suns — 124.9, Utah — 129.2

Up next

Suns are off for a few days now before hosting Portland late Wednesday night, possibly giving Cam Payne a chance to get back into the lineup.

The Blazers are experiencing a sort of tank, having traded away CJ McCollum and missing Dame Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic to injury; Anfernee Simons will likely still be a tough assignment for Bridges.