At some point you’ve got to know each other better than that. Even if you don’t know someone, you can’t use that as an excuse for turning the ball over —Quin Snyder
SALT LAKE CITY — Late in the Phoenix Suns’ 97-88 victory over the Utah Jazz Wednesday night, an exuberant fan at Talking Stick Resort Arena exclaimed, “79-3, baby.”
He was referring to the possibility of the Suns going 79-3 this season after their second straight victory. Of course he was being facetious. Only a few days earlier, some folks wondered if the Suns might be on their way to a 3-79 record this year after they were beaten by a record 48 points on opening night by Portland and by 42 points a few days later against the L.A. Clippers.
On Wednesday against the Jazz, the Suns looked like a different team, certainly playing with more energy and enthusiasm than the Jazz, who had a difficult time getting started, a night after playing and losing to the Clippers in Los Angeles.
The Jazz faced an uphill battle all night, falling behind by eight in the first four minutes, trailing by as many as 18 points and by double figures most of the game. Most of their problems came on the offensive end where they were sloppy with the basketball, committing 24 turnovers and shooting just 41.6 percent from the field, 24 percent from 3-point range.
Many of the turnovers came on bad passes, of which the Jazz had several Wednesday night. But they also seemed to find a way to turn the ball over in almost every conceivable fashion with several traveling calls, a few offensive fouls, some steps out of bounds, dropped balls and two for palming the ball on consecutive possessions — a call you rarely see in the NBA.
New point guard Ricky Rubio had three turnovers in the first five minutes and finished with seven on the night. He currently ranks fourth-worst in the NBA with 4.6 per game on the season.
After the game, coach Quin Snyder didn’t want to blame the turnovers on the fact that the Jazz have several new players this season who are trying to get to know each other.
“At some point you’ve got to know each other better than that. Even if you don’t know someone, you can’t use that as an excuse for turning the ball over,” Snyder said. “Our decisions just weren’t very good. Part of that is we weren’t in the right mindset — aggressive, attacking like we needed to at the beginning of the game. When the other team is playing with energy and being physical, you’re going to make some mistakes.”
The Jazz also had a really hard time getting their motor started in each of the four quarters.
They fell behind 10-2 in the first three minutes of the first quarter and were outscored 9-2 to start the second quarter. Then in the third quarter, the Suns started on a 6-0 run and in the fourth quarter, the Suns started with a 6-1 run over the opening 90 seconds.
That adds up to a 31-5 advantage for the Suns in the first few minutes of each quarter, which made it difficult for the Jazz to ever catch up.
Then there was the Jazz bench, which had been praised in earlier games for its many contributions. On Wednesday night, the Jazz reserves scored just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting and had eight turnovers.
“Our bench didn’t have it tonight,” Snyder said afterward.
For the second straight game, the Jazz struggled to make baskets. Rodney Hood started off hot, going 5 for 8 in the first half, but was only 2 for 8 in the second. Rubio was just 6 for 15 and reserves Joe Johnson and Donovan Mitchell were both 1 for 7 from the field. Only Derrick Favors (7 of 9) shot well.
At least the Jazz have a couple of days to sort things out with their offense before facing the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday night at Vivint Arena. The Lakers, by the way, are the only team in the league that ranks behind the Jazz’s 18.8 turnovers per game.
Then the Jazz play three more home games next week, against Dallas Monday, Portland Wednesday and Toronto Friday before heading back on the road for a Sunday game at Houston.
JAZZ NOTES: Alec Burks never got off the bench Wednesday after a dismal game the night before in Los Angeles when he went 3 for 10 with three turnovers. The Jazz rank 26th in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 31.3 percent and are second to last in scoring at 96.4 points per game. Rudy Gobert had season highs of 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Utah had more than 24 turnovers only once last year when it had 25 in a road win over Washington.