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Game Recap: Short-handed Suns have no issue dispatching the Jazz, 129-115

No Booker tonight, but 14 assists from Grayson Allen and 30-point performances from KD and Beal were enough.

Utah Jazz v Phoenix Suns Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

It was NBA Trade Deadline Day, which is always an interesting night to have basketball games. Some rosters, to get better, send players out in deals. They can’t play for the team and neither can their incoming assets. So you go into it shorthanded, hoping your team can get a win.

That is what the Phoenix Suns did tonight against the Utah Jazz, as they entered down four players following the Suns’ three-way deal with the Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies. No Yuta Watanabe, no Jordan Goodwin, no Keita Bates-Diop, and Chimezie Metu. All were sent out as the Suns acquired Royce O’Neale and David Roddy. The Jazz were down players as well as they sent out Kelly Olynyk, Ochai Agbaji, and Simone Fontecchio.

In my game preview, I predicted that Devin Booker would go for 45 points tonight. The Jazz are a team that he plays well, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Devin Booker was out with a sore hip. So there would be no 45-point outburst from the four-time All-Star.

Instead, it was a team basketball approach but Phoenix, led by Kevin Durant’s 31 points and 7 assists, Bradley Beal’s 6-of-8 three-point shooting and 30 points, and Grayson Allen’s career-high14 assists allowed the Suns to cruise to a 14-point win.

The Jazz were led by 21 points and 14 rebounds from John Collins.

Phoenix had a season-high 37 assists, surpassing their previous high of 36 and 35, both of which occurred earlier in the year against the Jazz. It is the first time the Susnhave swept the Jazz in their season series since the 1982-83 season.

Game Flow

First Half

Phoenix jumped out to a 9-2 run to start the game behind 3-of-3 shooting by Kevin Durant. He had 11 of the team’s first 20 points as he was assertive and aggressive early.

Bradley Beal did his fair share of scoring early as well, knocking down his first 3 three-point shots to help extend the Suns' lead to 11 points, 26-15. Beal had struggled with his three-ball shot after being forced to wear a mask, but he’s adjusted, going 6-of-13 from deep in his last two games.

Jordan Clarkson hit a pair of threes to give the Jazz an offensive boost and big man Walker Kessler helped on the interior with his 8 points in the first.

Durant returned to the lineup and returned to scoring, doing so on all three levels. He ended the first with 19 points, leading the Suns to a 40-point quarter and a 16-point lead after one. The Suns had 12 assists, and only two turnovers in the period.

Nassir Little was not included in any trade deadline transactions, despite having a very stackable contract. With a depleted roster after sending out four players, and Devin Booker being out, Little received an opportunity to play. He started the second quarter.

Jusuf Nurkic owned the front end of the second as Utah did not have anyone to match his size on the interior with Kessler out. He punished the small front line of Utah, scoring 8 points with ease.

Grayson Allen’s season high on assists entering the game was six. He had that with eight minutes left of the second quarter, as he was dishing the ball around and finding open teammates.

Utah went on a 10-2 run to cut into the Phoenix lead with rookie Keyonte George being the spark plug. Getting out in transition with pace following missed shots served the Jazz well leading to easy bucket opportunities.

Free throws and three-point hits closed the gap even more for Utah. They scored 38 points in the second. The Jazz trailed by 9 at the half, 75-66.

KD had 23 points after only 4 in the second. Granted, he wasn’t substituted back in until there were five minutes left in the half. Good rest there. And GA? His career high in assists was 8. He had 9 at the half.

Second Half

Utah opened the second half with physicality on the mind as they began hand-checking and bodying up the Suns. When you do it on every play, the officials are t going to call it every time. This helped them start on a 12-6 run, closing the once 19-point lead down to three.

The Suns responded by doing what they had been doing all night: moving the ball. The rock was buzzing and popping around in every possession, finding open shooters who were knocking down their shots. A quick 13-0 run pushed the Phoenix back to 16 points.

Allen continued to up his assist total, finding his teammates in transition and from three. He ended the third with 14 assists, but 4 ticky-tack fouls sent him to the bench with three minutes left in the period.

The moment of the third is when Kevin Durant crossed up rookie Troy Hendricks, putting him on skates. As the 9th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft fell to the ground, Durant drove to the cylinder and jammed one home. Another highlight-worthy moment from KD.

After the lead was narrower the 3, the Suns closed the quarter on a 28-11 run, leading 109-90 entering the fourth.

The fourth quarter began like most do for the Suns, giving up a quick 60 run to the Utah Jazz. For some reason, Phoenix is paranoid about scoring within the first three minutes of the period.

As the crowd started to become nervous as it typically does at the start of the fourth, they were calmed by an electric play by none other than the man who made Keita Bates-Diop obsolete by taking his spot in the rotation.

Bol Bol juked the Jazz, and it was once again Troy Hendricks who paid the price.

The whistle began working against Phoenix as they had four team fouls in the first three minutes. The Jazz would be shooting free throws for the remainder of the game. This would allow them to slow the pace to their liking.

That’s what Utah did. Slowed it down. They attacked the cylinder every play, screaming before contact in an effort to sell the call. It’s funny when a team that is being physical the entire game on the defensive end doesn’t get called for the contact they create yet on the other end of the floor they constantly create contact and are rewarded for it.

The Bol Bol block show began in the fourth as the 7’2” wing had three blocks in a two-possession span.

The Jazz cut the lead to 11 points late in the fourth but KD began to dissect, both by scoring and by passing. His 31 points and 7 assists were too much, as were Beal’s 6 made three-pointers and 30 points.

The Suns win 129-115.

Up Next

Phoenix heads back out on the road, playing the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. Will this be our first chance to see Royce O’Neale in a Suns uniform? Tune in to find out!

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