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Game Recap: Suns defense takes a Vegas vacation in the fourth, lose to Jazz 97-93

The Suns played fluid basketball, their best thus far in Summer League. And then they didn’t.

2023 NBA Las Vegas Summer League - Utah Jazz v Phoenix Suns Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The final game of the Summer League “regular season” (the Suns, due to their record, didn’t qualify for the four-team semifinals and will thus play the Grizzlies tomorrow in their final Summer League game) put the Phoenix Suns against the Utah Jazz. The result? The third loss for Phoenix, who now have a 1-3 Summer League record.

After missing game three with load management, the 52nd pick of the 2023 NBA Draft, Toumani Camara, returned to action on Friday night. He scored 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting with 7 rebounds.

It appears that Jordan Goodwin has been shut down for the summer and the next time we’ll see him is in the preseason.

It was win-and-you’re-in-the-semifinals for the Utah Jazz, and they took care of business. Despite trailing after each of the first three quarters, they outscored Phoenix 33-21 in the fourth to win their fourth Summer League game.

Game Flow

First Half

Our eyes are on Toumani, as he has the best opportunity to have his reps in Summer League equate to minutes in the NBA. His hustle and intensity was on display early as he continually crashed the glass and put forth focused effort. He came out and scored 5 of the Suns’ first 9 points, and once again set the tone for the team.

Side note time! One thing that’s been rather annoying throughout the entire Summer League, whenever the games are on NBATV, is how the broadcasting team questions the Suns’ roster construction. I get it. Numerous questions exist. We haven’t seen what it is on the court yet. They’re young, hungry athletes who have something to prove. It’s not a roster built on the backs of experienced veterans. So they have a right to question. But no credit seems to be given to James Jones executing his vision.

OK, back to the game.

Hunter Hale, who hit six three-pointers in the Suns’ last game against the Pelicans, entered the game and did what he does. He deposited a three. The rest of the team followed suit, as they shot 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in the first.

Utah looked like the pro club, who shot the fifth most three-points last season, as they attempted 14 of their 18 shots from beyond the arc

Phoenix was led by Gabe Brown’s 8 points in the quarter, and carried a 25-22 lead into the second.

Camara was a little loose with the ball to open the second, as he would penetrate and kick to his teammates beyond the arc. But his passes were inaccurate and resulted in turnovers. His offensive possessions appeared to be more rushed than what we’ve seen thus far in the summer league.

We received our daily Jordan Usher highlight, as he was the recipient of an alley oop dunk midway through the second quarter. Usher continues to come off the bench and be a solid player for Phoenix.

The Jazz had a productive quarter, led by Luka Samanic’s 14 points. But Phoenix ended the quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 47-43 lead into the half.

Second Half

The patience returned for Toumani in the second quarter. He appeared to be less rushed, and on a nice drive to his left, he laid the ball high off the glass for his 7th point of the game.

Johnny Juzang, former UCLA Bruin, looked solid for Utah. His size and athleticism, coupled with his willingness to attack the rim, equates to numerous trips to the line. He ended 7-of-10 from the free throw line in the game with 23 points.

If you’ve read my writing this Summer League, you know I’m a fan of Trey Jemison. I’m an “attitude and effort” guy, and Trey personifies those traits. He ended with 6 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes, and one nice jam.

Summer League can lead to plenty of isolation basketball as players aim to stat stuff and impress scouts. The Suns played as a team in the third quarter, however, popping the ball around the court and setting each other up for easy baskets. It was a fluid game that felt…like a game.

In the middle of the period. Phoenix put together its second 8-0 run of the game. The Suns outscored the Jazz by 4 in the quarter and led 72-64 at the end of three.

“You have to run them off the line,” Camara noted in a mid-quarter interview when asked what it would take for Phoenix to win. The Jazz ended with 38 attempts from beyond the arc. Like, whoa. They hit 14 (36.8%).

The rebounding by Utah kept them in the game and provided them numerous second chance opportunities, which they converted. An 8-0 run by Utah reset the game and put Phoenix behind with 6 minutes, but the Suns responded with 5 straight of their own.

The game remained back-and-forth in the final minutes, with Juzang flexing his scoring ability late. 5 consecutive points put Utah up 6 with less than two minutes to play.

The Suns continued to grind behind Grant Sherfield’s 23 points, and with 15.1 seconds left, but the Suns had a chance to tie or win the game with the final shot as they trailed 95-93. But Louis Olinde threw the ball out of bounds on the inbound play as he tried to find Camara.

Samanic ended with 22 points and 6 rebounds, Juzang added a team-high 23, and Utah advanced to the semifinals with a 97-93 victory.

Next up for the Suns in their final game in Vegas, an evening game against the Memphis Grizzlies. The game will be at 6:30pm Arizona time and you can watch it on NBATV.

Until then, Bright Siders, have a great evening!

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