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Suns and Jazz Tied at 75 at Halftime in Offensive Battle

© Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns (5-6) and Utah Jazz (4-7) are tied at 75 after a very high-scoring first half by both teams, as Kevin Durant can’t miss for the Suns. Devin Booker tied his career-high with nine assists in the half.

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Tonight is Phoenix’s second game in the NBA In-Season Tournament and the third for Utah. The Jazz are 2-0 in tournament play, while the Suns are 0-1. That being said, tonight is a must win for the Suns if they want to have any chance of going to Vegas, as the Los Angeles Lakers are also 2-0 and own the tiebreaker over Phoenix since they beat them.

The Suns revealed today that Bradley Beal will be out for at least three more weeks due to a low back strain. Phoenix and Utah will also square off on Sunday for their second game in a row against each other.

Here’s how the action unfolded:


Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker, Eric Gordon, Grayson Allen, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkić

Utah Jazz: Keyonte George, Jordan Clarkson, Ochai Agbaji, Lauri Markkanen, John Collins

First Quarter

On the very first possession, you could see the benefit of having Booker back for a second-straight game, as he found Durant wide open for a corner three. Booker then hit a pull-up jumper on the ensuing possession after the Suns got a stop on defense.

Booker and Durant continued to cook, just as they did in Phoenix’s win over the Timberwolves Wednesday, and the Suns found themselves up 13-4 less than two minutes into the game. The star duo combined for 11 of these points.

The Suns scored on their first seven possessions of the game, and Utah looked like it was completely overmatched.

However, the Jazz eventually responded with a 7-2 run led by Jordan Clarkson, and it was 21-13 with 7:30 left.

Booker made another bucket before getting subbed out with seven minutes left in the quarter due to his minutes restriction. Booker had seven points and four assists in only five minutes.

The Suns saw no drop off right after Booker checked out, as Eric Gordon cashed a 27-foot triple, which made the Suns 5-for-6 from deep to start the night. This bucket also gave Kevin Durant his fourth assist very early in the game.

However, after a nice Durant fadeaway, which marked his third straight make on three tries, Utah went on a 7-1 run, and it was 29-21 Phoenix with 4:38 remaining in the first quarter.

The teams went back and forth the next few possessions, as the Suns were shooting over 75% and the Jazz nearly 60% with just over three minutes to go in the first. Booker checked back in at this point for Durant with the Suns leading 34-26.

Booker found Eubanks for an easy layup right away for his fifth assist of the game. The Jazz responded with their hot shooting, and it was only 39-36 Suns with a minute left in the first, as the Jazz went on a 10-3 run.

The first quarter ended with Phoenix leading 41-38 after the Suns cooled off a little bit and the Jazz began to heat up led by their bench.

Durant had an insanely efficient first quarter, as he had 10 points of four-of-four shooting, five assists and four rebounds. Booker had nine points and six assists. Both had zero turnovers as well.

Phoenix shot 61% from the floor and 7-for-8 (87.5%) from deep. Utah shot 65% from the floor and 57% from deep.

Second Quarter

The teams opened up the second in another back-and-forth battle. Lauri Markkanen cut the Suns’ lead to only one right away with a jumper.

Keita Bates-Diop made two straight buckets and highlight-reel alley-oop to the high-flying Drew Eubanks made it 48-42 Suns with 9:42 left in the half.

Booker subbed out at the 9:41 mark, and the Suns played less than a minute without Booker and Durant. Gordon was the one who checked in for Booker and hit another deep triple right away.

When Durant did check back in, he hit an incredible contested three over Markannen to continue his perfect night. He eventually was up to 6-of-6 as the Suns led 60-52 with 5:50 remaining in the second quarter. Durant finally missed on his seventh attempt from the field

The Jazz continued to respond to everything the Suns threw at them, and it was 64-58 Phoenix with 4:07 left. The Suns started the second quarter 2-of-8 from three after their remarkable first quarter from deep.

Booker checked back in at this point to play alongside Durant, but Utah stayed in attack mode. It was soon a tie game at 66 with 2:41 to go after Jazz rookie Keyonte George could not miss.

The Jazz took their first lead of the game with 1:26 to go in the half with a John Collins putback to make it 70-68.

Durant singlehandedly kept the Suns within one possession despite the Jazz seemingly not missing on any shot. It was tied at 75 at halftime, as the Jazz could not miss on any of last few final possessions.

Durant had 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting, six rebounds and five assists, as no one could stop him. Meanwhile, Booker did not score his first points of the second quarter until the last second on free throws. He still almost had a double-double in the half, finishing with 11 points and nine assists.

George had 11 in the second quarter for the Jazz, and Clarkson led Utah in scoring with 16 in the half.

In total, the Suns shot 56% from the floor and 59% from deep. The Jazz converted 57% of their field goals and 56% of their threes.

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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