The Phoenix Suns continued their winning ways from a season ago in a 106 to 95 win over the Utah Jazz. Former Jazz guard Raja Bell lead all scorers with 20 points in his first trip back to Salt Lake City since departing in August. The Suns combined to go 10-28 from the three point line lead by Bell and newly acquired James Jones.
The First quarter was a closely contested fight as both teams scored often, Kris Humphries had all 11 of his points in the quarter. Jazz first round pick Deron Williams saw his only minutes of the game in the first quarter, he would leave the game with 4 minutes in the quarter after he picked up his third foul.
The Jazz had a problem with screens all night long, they either misread them, or went though them. This lead to many offense fouls for the Jazz on the offensive end, and many easy points for the Sun.
The Second quarter opened with both teams knotted at 26, the Jazz lead by Jarron Collins built up and early 5 point lead. The Suns post defense once again let the Jazz big men come and go as they pleased. On the other side of the ball the Suns got many uncontested three point shots. The Game teeter-tottered back and forth for most of the quarter, it wasnít until the Jazz inserted C.J. Miles did things begin to change. The Suns went on a 10-4 run to take a four point lead with second left in the quarter, but Keith McLeod hit a jumper to bring the Jazz with-in two.
In the third Milt Palacio started the quarter in place of Williams. The Jazz got things going immediately as Andrei Kirilenko attacked the hoop on 5 of the Jazz first six plays, scoring 7 points in the span. The Suns finally began to play some post defense in the third, only problem was they continued sending the Jazz to the free throw line. The Suns offense used a barrage of three pointers to make a comeback after trailing by five in the middle part of the quarter. Later in the quarter the Suns three point attack and their sudden intensity on defense left the Jazz helpless as the Suns built up a double digit lead going into the fourth.
Keith McLeod tried rallying the Jazz in the fourth, but after reeling off 6 straight points to bring the Jazz with-in five, Raja Bell silenced the Jazz with back to back three pointers. The Middle of the fourth quarter saw both teams offenses stagnate, as neither team scored for about 4 minutes. Andre Owens would hit a couple of jump shots and a free throw to bring the Jazz within 6 late in the fourth, but Bell and James ensured the win with a three pointer each.
Keys for the Jazz:
Transition Defense- the Jazz did a nice job getting back for most the game, holding the Suns to only nine fast points. The biggest problem the Jazz had was setting up after the Suns slowed the game up.
Perimeter Defense- This was none excitant, the Suns shot a three any time they felt like it, and most the time it was uncontested. The Jazz were among the worst teams in the NBA last year in perimeter defense, and it cost them, and unless they can do something about it, they will be in the same situation this year.
Switch Defense- Again this plagued the Jazz last year, and this year itís the same guys who seem not to understand it; Mehmet Okur, Kris Humphries, and Gordon Giricek. All three could not figure out what to do when they got picked or someone else got beat. Most of the time they just fouled the opponent, which meant free throws for the Suns.
Pounding the ball inside- The Jazz really need to do this all night every night. When they pounded the ball inside they dominated the Suns. The Jazz big guys combined for 57 of the 95 points. When the Jazz would go inside thatís when they built up a lead, but once they went back to their guards is when the Suns would recapture the lead.
Screens- This must be as foreign to the Jazz as Uzbekistan is to me. On the offensive end, the Jazz constantly either misread the screen, or didnít set it right and got called for an offensive foul. Keith McLeod would have had many easy look has he used the screen, but every-time heíd move away from the screen. The Guards inability to use the screens may be the cause of the big guys getting called for moving screens, but other times the big guys either grabbed, or pushed on a screen. The worst at this where Spencer Nelson, James Lang, and Jarron Collins.
Keys for the Suns.
Post Defense- The Suns wanted to get better at defense in the off-season, it appears their perimeter defense got better, but their post defense was atrocious. Collins, Robert Whaley, and Humphries looked like all-stars out there all night. Humphries got 9 quick points under the hoop in about a three minute stretch in the first quarter, and all the Suns could do was foul him.
Three point shooting- this looks to be the bread and butter of the Suns offensive sets again this coming year. The addition of Raja Bell and James Jones should really make the Suns a deep threat.
Rebounding- the Suns did a very nice job at rebounding, especially on the offensive end. This lead to many Suns second chance points, and more importantly it kept the Jazz from being able to go inside.
Andrei Kirilenko- The Jazz really need to use him as a scoring threat, he is a great ball handler and cutter. he has the ability to jump over his defender to get easy buckets. When he is hacked he has a hard time finishing, but he is a good free throw shooter so the Jazz wont lose out much if he gets hacked going to the basket.
Raja Bell- His ability to play on the perimeter will serve the Suns well. He can hit open shots easily and also is very good at driving to the basket, and finishing. But most importantly he is a very good defender, which is why the Suns signed him.