The Phoenix Suns roared off to a strong start in their matchup against the Utah Jazz, leading by as much as 13 in the first half. They were buoyed by a strong start from Devin Booker, who was looking to shake off the bad shooting night he had against the Pacers, and started off well by going 9 of 17 for 19 first half points.
Chris Paul, who had 18 points and 16 assists against Indiana, was also on form and already had eight points and nine assists at halftime.
The Jazz played from behind the entire first half until they took a 56-55 lead with 1:10 in the second quarter. That was short-lived though, as the Suns hit a three to make it 58-56 by the time the first half ended.
Utah continued to make it a game early in the second half. They kept taking the hits from the Suns and traded leads multiple times in the third quarter and had an 87-85 lead heading into the final stanza. The Suns retook the lead with 7:50 left in the game thanks to a 7-0 run and never looked back.
What the Jazz couldn’t find an answer to in the third quarter was Booker, who continued with his hot hand and had 14 points the period. Fatigue seemed to be the only thing that slowed him down and he got to rest for a long time in the fourth quarter thanks to a strong performance from his teammates.
Booker didn’t have to return to the game until there was only 6:17 left on the clock. He didn’t score in the fourth quarter, but his veteran teammate took over to make up for it.
The Point God showed his chops in the final period, dishing three assists and making 5 of 8 shots in the fourth quarter including a pair of threes. He finished with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 14 assists.
Bismack Biyombo had another great game off the bench and produced another double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds. Cam Johnson also filled in admirably for Jae Crowder in the starting lineup and finished with 20 points, six rebounds and three steals.
This is the second game in the row where the Suns faced a decimated team. The Jazz were missing most of their key players like Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley. While the Suns were without DeAndre Ayton and Jae Crowder, but had far more of their key contributors available for the game.
The Jazz got admirable performances from their bench players in the 115-109 defeat. Trent Forrest shot 8 of 12 for 17 points, while the 2020-21 Sixth man of the Year Jordan Clarkson finished as the Jazz’s leading scorer with 22 points.
A win’s a win, but the Suns will not be happy that they allowed a team with so many missing players back into the game multiple times. They’ll have to do better against stronger opposition, but they’ve shown all season that they’re up for the challenge.