SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz ended 2020 not with a bang, but more of a whimper.
The Jazz shoot just 41.7 percent from the floor and lose their second straight home game, falling to the Phoenix Suns, 106-95.
Devin Booker scored 25 points and seven assists, while Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder added 16 points apiece for the Suns. Phoenix had six players score in double figures.
Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points for the Jazz, but on 9 of 23 shooting from the field. Rudy Gobert had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Mike Conley chipped in 16 points. The Jazz are 0-2 at home to start the 2020-21 season.
“I’ve been shooting the ball like s***,” Mitchell said. “There’s no other way around it. I’ve just gotta continue pushing through it. I’ll figure it out, it’ll come. But right now it’s hurting us.”
Mitchell is shooting just 34 percent from the field through Utah’s first four games, nearly ten percentage points below his career average.
Bojan Bogdanovic was 0 for 5 from field, and missed all three of his three-point attempts.
“Teams have been coming out being aggressive and it’s taking us too long to react,” Gobert said. “We have all the weapons to counteract that, but tonight it took us too long to adjust again.”
Cold shooting from the Jazz allowed the Suns to surge ahead in the second quarter. Utah missed 13 shots in the quarter and shot just 39.5% from the field overall before halftime.
Phoenix used a 7-0 run capped by Chris Paul’s fadeaway jumper to seize a 30-24 lead. The Suns extended their lead to 48-33 late in the second quarter behind a flurry of baskets from Cameron Payne.
“We executed, especially in the first half, defensively how we wanted to guard,” Booker said.
Utah whittled a 13-point deficit down to three points early in the third quarter. Conley sparked a 16-6 run with back-to-back pullup 3-pointers. Gobert punctuated it with a running dunk that cut the Suns’ lead to 59-56.
Bridges kept the Jazz at arm’s length with his outside shooting. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers to end Utah’s run and sank another two minutes later to boost Phoenix’s lead to 70-62.
Phoenix scored on three straight possessions to end the quarter and kick-start a 16-2 run. Johnson made three baskets during the run, culminating in a jumper that put the Suns up 91-70 early in the fourth quarter.
“That’s where we hang our hat is on the defensive end,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We feel like we’re trending in the right direction.”
Utah cut a 21-point, fourth-quarter deficit to 98-93 on Conley’s 3-pointer with 2:07 left. Mitchell and Conley combined to score on five straight possessions to get the Jazz back into the game, but Utah could draw no closer.
“The biggest thing is just playing through it,” said Mitchell. “Teams are going to be aggressive. We played hard but we didn’t play smart.”
The Jazz next host the L.A. Clippers Friday night at 7:00 p.m.