An 82-game NBA season is full of peaks and valleys. If Wednesday night was an absolute high for the Utah Jazz, Friday constituted a low. The Phoenix Suns easily took care of business, defeating the Utah Jazz 99-84.
A team that has been known for its offensive prowess for decades, Phoenix was on fire from the start. The Suns jumped on the Jazz early, bursting out to a 34-22 first-quarter lead. Utah had some runs, cutting the deficit down to four at one point. But the early hole proved to be too much for the Jazz.
Offensive fundamentals: Phoenix was not extremely overwhelming offensively, but did plenty of things right en route to notching a victory. The Suns' ball movement was crisp and consistently resulted in good, high-percentage shots. Whether it was an open 3-pointer or a smoothly executed pick-and-roll, the Suns earned the win.
In the first half, one which saw them enjoy a 20-point lead, the Suns were moving the ball around. Sixteen of their 22 field goals in the first two quarters came off assists — an impressive 73 percent. While that number dropped a bit in the second half, it was an integral part of Phoenix's success.
Offensive woes: Conversely, the Jazz struggled. Several players who have carried Utah of late had rough nights. Al Jefferson was 6 of 16 for 14 points. Randy Foye was a mere 3 of 13. And Gordon Hayward was blanked out on his five attempts. After hitting the thrilling game winner vs. the San Antonio Spurs, Mo Williams was less aggressive, going just 2 of 5 for the night.
Only four of the 12 Utah players who saw the court scored above their season averages.
The highlight efforts belonged to Paul Millsap (5 of 7 from the floor), Marvin Williams (5 of 8), and an active Derrick Favors (11 points, 8 rebounds) who looks spry in just his second game back from injury.
This and that:
• The Jazz lost three of the four quarters, and the one they won was by two points.
• Phoenix swingman Jared Dudley was a vital cog for the home team. He nailed 9 of 12 for a nice line of 22 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. He also sported a plus-minus of plus-26.
• Gordon Hayward’s 16 minutes were a season-low. The previous low was 19 minutes.
• After enjoying some prolific shot-blocking nights this season and last time against Phoenix, Favors had just one swat.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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