PHOENIX — One thing is certain for Jimmer Fredette at Wednesday night’s game when the Phoenix Suns take on the Utah Jazz. When he enters the game, if he gets in at all, he won’t get the same loud reception from the home crowd like he did nine days earlier when he played against the Jazz at Vivint Arena.
After being signed by the Suns on March 21, Fredette was hoping to jumpstart his NBA career with some strong performances over the last five games for the Suns, who have held the worst record in the NBA for most of the season and are now the second-worst at 18-60. So far, he’s done nothing to endear himself to the fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Instead, it’s his teammate Devin Booker who has recently been putting up the spectacular numbers that Fredette produced in China over the past three seasons, with three games of more than 48 points in his last four games, including a 59-point night against the Jazz last week.
Meanwhile, Fredette, who has built his career around his ability to make 3-pointers, has precisely zero 3-pointers since joining the Suns in six attempts. Overall, he’s made 3 of 14 field goals (21.4 percent) and has made 6 of 6 free throws.
Not exactly the kind of numbers he was hoping for to help him stick around the NBA a little longer.
In his five games since joining the Suns, Fredette did not play in two and after going 1 for 11 in the first two games at Sacramento and Utah, he had his best game Monday night at home when he scored 6 points on 2-of-3 from the field with two free throws and an assist in six minutes of a Suns’ win over Cleveland.
After his off night in Utah, where he was greeted with loud ovations from the home crowd, Fredette acknowledged he may have been too “amped up” with a lot of his shots going long. Still, he remains optimistic about his future, telling the Utah media “it felt good to just get out there and be aggressive and play my game and know if I keep doing that, everything’s going to be good.”
At least Fredette has had some good news to celebrate since his visit to Utah last week. On Friday, his wife, Whitney, gave birth to the couple’s second child, Taft Russell. Fredette didn’t miss any time because it came on a day off before the Suns’ game Saturday against Memphis, in which he ended up not playing.
While a few of the Jazz players were annoyed by all the cheers Fredette received last week, they probably won’t give him a second thought Wednesday night. Their attention will be focused on Booker, who, after putting up 59, 50 and 48 in three losses last week, scored a mere 25 points with 13 assists in a Suns’ win over Cleveland Monday.
That same night, the Jazz saw another guard put up big numbers against them when Charlotte’s Kemba Walker scored 47 points, including 38 in the second half.
Coach Quin Snyder wasn’t overly concerned about Walker’s big night, saying the Jazz were in foul trouble and left him open when they had a big lead. He said some of them were “walk-up 3s” and added, “When we don’t execute as well in transition, it is really difficult to get up and take some of that stuff away.”
Joe Ingles said the Jazz played well defensively for three quarters, stating, “It’s something we need to get better at because in a close game, obviously that can hurt us.”
JAZZ NOTES: This marks the fourth and final meeting between the Jazz and Suns, but the third in the last three weeks. After winning 116-88 at home in February, the Jazz won in Phoenix on March 13, 114-97, besides last week’s 125-92 win, also in Salt Lake. … Derrick Favors and Kyle Korver will both miss their second straight game because of injury, while Jae Crowder is probable after he left Monday's contest early. ... The Suns also have several injured players, including Deandre Ayton, T.J. Warren, Tyler Johnson and Kelly Oubre. … After Wednesday’s game, the Jazz return home to face Sacramento Friday night, followed by three games in four nights to finish the regular season: at the Lakers Sunday, Denver at home Tuesday and at the Clippers Wednesday. The playoffs begin the weekend after the final game. … The Suns are coached by former Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov.