A late scratch before the match began, Cam Payne was ruled out due to a pain in his right knee, giving Aaron Holiday the main ball management duties off the bench, but that didn’t matter.
Despite being down 17 points in the fourth quarter, the Phoenix Suns have achieved one of their best wins of all season.
The Suns topped the Jazz 36-13 in the fourth quarter, a complete turnaround from the fights in the first three quarters.
The Suns now have a team record of 64 wins and 32 road wins. The 32 road wins also equal a championship record of road wins in a season.
The match got off to a pretty bad start with five consecutive mistakes before Chris Paul ended the scoring drought with a gaping elbow jumper. But for the Jazz the scoring drought wasn’t going to end that easily as they missed each of their first eight shots and also made two losses in that time frame.
The fourth was not even halfway through and seemed to be a way from the Suns leading 11-0.
But once Bogdanovic scored Utah’s first game basket with an unbalanced hook, the Jazz began to look alive. Over the next four minutes, the Jazz scored 18 out of seven points for ten shots (four three-pointers) to make it a six-point game.
Phoenix finished fourth in sixth place and were lucky enough to even be ahead. Utah missed a few wide threes and, due to Jordan Clarkson’s isolation, could not take advantage of the five offensive rebounds of the period.
The momentum remained with Utah in the second as they opened the fourth with consecutive dunks from Hernangomez and Gobert followed by a counterattack layup from Danuel House to equalize the game at 30 overall.
The second quarter seemed the exact opposite of the first as Phoenix was the team that couldn’t buy a basket. Their first accomplishment of the fourth came nearly five minutes into the period on an open dunk from Deandre Ayton.
A big key to Jazz in the first half was the bench. Utah had 26 points on the bench compared to 4 for the Suns.
At 51-41 with three minutes left in the first half, Devin Booker took over. Book scored 11 points from four consecutive scoring, giving the Suns the first lead since the start of the fourth.
In the middle, Utah led Phoenix 57-54.
After those first few minutes of opening the game, the Jazz never looked back. They started the second warm half, opening the fourth with a 15-6 run to once again extend the double-digit lead on Mitchell and Bogdanovic.
The Suns’ fights were exemplified by a 3-on-none counterattack that somehow became a turnover when a Chris Paul errant pass bounced from Booker’s hands straight out of bounds.
It took nine minutes for Booker to land his first basket of the second half which reduced the Jazz lead to eight.
Towards the end of the third quarter Booker stopped for a shot and Utah’s Danuel House was called for a shooting foul, but after manager Quin Snyder defied the call, not only was it overturned, but the foul is been now committed on Booker for kicking legs.
That was a huge four-point swing for Utah who by then already had a 12-point lead.
Calling the third quarter abysmal for Phoenix would be a huge understatement. Anything that could go wrong has gone wrong.
In the final play of the fourth, the Suns forced a Mike Conley float to miss only to end up as a makeshift and one for Rudy Gobert. But then, when his free throw was missed, Utah secured the rebound and morphed into a Jordan Clarkson three-beater siren.
Somehow, forcing a mistake increased the Suns deficit from 12 to 17 and the game was almost over.
Or was it?
Clearly, Phoenix fails to understand (and does not want to) the concept of losing games as he opened the fourth with a 10-3 run, bringing the game to 10.
By the middle of the quarter it was only an eight-point game and Booker still hadn’t seen the floor.
After an 11-0 run by the Suns, Utah were only two ahead with four minutes to go and the game was within everyone’s reach. Phoenix didn’t have any stakes in this game, but they still played as if their playoff lives were at stake.
After being nearly invisible for most of the game, Mikal Bridges took the ball off the three-point line and made a nice up and under layup through three-time defender of the year Gobert to equalize the game at 98. The Suns they had a meteor momentum on their side.
With less than two minutes to go, the Suns took their first second-half lead over a Bridges flush with less than 90 seconds left.
The nail in the coffin for Utah came once again from No. 25 when Bridges landed a layup and one to give the Suns a two-possession advantage and the game was over.
Jazz’s Twitter account even preemptively prepared for this inevitable crash.
In a meaningless match that Phoenix could have given up, they played their starters and took victory on a shattered road. The Suns have shown every night tonight that they are ready for the playoffs because they always take their opponents seriously, even if they shouldn’t.
Final score: Soli 111-Jazz 105