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Instant analysis: Jazz get outplayed again, lose to Suns

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) makes a layup against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020.

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) makes a layup against the Utah Jazz defense during an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020.

Yukai Peng, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz got outplayed once again on Thursday night at home and fell to the Phoenix Suns 106-95 to close out the 2020 calendar year on a bad note, dropping to 2-2 on the season.

High notes

  • Down by 21 points in the fourth quarter, the Jazz cut the deficit to five with less than two minutes to go but couldn’t get over the hump. They’ve now had to make double-digit comebacks in three of four games this season.
  • Most of the night was a struggle for the Jazz, although it initially appeared it might not be that way. Utah came out as the aggressors on offense in getting to the basket, unlike multiple times already this season, but that lasted all of about two minutes, and most of the rest of the contest was a slog.
  • Down by 13 at halftime, the Jazz capitalized on some Phoenix misses early in the third quarter, which gave them a chance to run. Mike Conley was excellent in the opening minutes of the second half and Utah eventually cut the deficit to three, but then it was back to the bad stuff.

Low notes

  • The Jazz have got to figure out how to generate offense when the opposition is pressuring them. Multiple times now this season, Utah has faced a team that pressures the ball, and the Jazz have had absolutely no answers. On Thursday night, Suns backup point guard Jevon Carter applied the primary pressure and it completely stymied Utah’s offense. Utah coach Quin Snyder said running pick and roll is the counter for that, but the Jazz couldn’t make it happen.
  • A whole lot of Jazz players struggled. Bojan Bogdanovic scored just three points, missing all of his only five field goal attempts (he made three free throws). Jordan Clarkson scored 12 points on 5 of 11 shooting, but foul trouble prevented him from really being able to get into a flow. Joe Ingles scored just five points on 2 of 7 shooting and made just one of his five 3-point attempts.
  • On the flip side, multiple Suns players had excellent nights. Devin Booker scored 25 points and forwards Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder added 16 points apiece. Jazz fans are accustomed to seeing a Crowder, who is sometimes really on target, and that was the case Thursday as he made four of his nine 3-point attempts.
  • Utah had a bunch of problems with defensive rotations during Phoenix runs, which led to open 3-point looks for the Suns, and the road team made the Jazz pay. On the night, Phoenix made 17 of its 33 tries from distance. Utah, on the other hand, hit just 12 of 34.

Flat note

  • Maybe the Jazz should have known even before tipoff that things would be a struggle. Right before the game was supposed to start, Suns savvy point guard Chris Paul observed that one of the rims’ height was off (remember he’s the guy who last year with the Oklahoma City Thunder noticed that Minnesota’s Jordan Bell didn’t have his jersey tucked in at the end of a game, which led to OKC getting a free throw and winning the contest). Maintenance crews had to come out on to the floor, which delayed tipoff Thursday by about 10 minutes.