EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Josh Jackson’s strong performance not enough for Suns to win on road

Feb 6, 2019, 9:29 PM | Updated: 9:49 pm
Phoenix Suns' Josh Jackson (20) attempts a layup as Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors, right, defend...
Phoenix Suns' Josh Jackson (20) attempts a layup as Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors, right, defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)
(AP Photo/Kim Raff)

Even on a night in which the Phoenix Suns get one of their players’ best performances of the season, it’s hard to win without the injured Devin Booker, De’Anthony Melton and T.J. Warren.

It’s possible — but hard.

Josh Jackson had what might of been his best outing as a Sun this season. He had 27 points, four rebounds, seven assists and five steals, but the Suns fell to the Jazz 116-88.

Jackson’s 27 on Wednesday night made it three straight games Jackson has scored at least 25 points in.

He was attacking the rim and finishing through contact.

He got to the line well, making eight of his 10 attempts there and was 8-of-12 from the field on his two-pointers.

As they have from time to time while down key players, the Suns continued to fight and find just enough offense to be in the game. In addition to 27 from Jackson, Kelly Oubre Jr. had 16 off the bench and Deandre Ayton added 20 points.

While the Jazz were in control of the game throughout, the Suns were only down six points at the end of the first quarter, 10 at halftime and eight at the end of the third quarter.

But as they have all season, the Suns couldn’t avoid giving up easy baskets to their opponent and that makes it extremely difficult to come back on the road.

As soon as the Suns would get the deficit back to within five, six or eight, the Jazz would go on a quick run, like they did to start the fourth quarter.

That quickly ballooned up to a 17-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter and Utah pulled away from there.

Following a 7-for-25 shooting performance from 3-point range in a loss to the Rockets on Monday, the Suns shot 3-of-17 from deep in Utah.

The Jazz shot 50 percent as a team and had seven players score in double figures.

Phoenix has now lost 12 straight and 19 of its last 21 games.

JOHNSON’S ARRIVAL

With the arrival of newly acquired guard Tyler Johnson on Thursday according to The Athletic’s Gina Mizell, all eyes will be on how he fits into the Suns’ point guard rotation on Friday at home against the Golden State Warriors.

With Melton continuing to be out due to a right ankle sprain, Okobo got the start Wednesday while two-way point guard Jawun Evans also got spot minutes. He played 11 off the bench and had two points, two rebounds and an assist.

Jamal Crawford is the name to watch with Johnson’s emergence. Crawford has been used to run the offense when Booker rests while playing with Booker when the two-guard returns from the bench. That’s the type of role the combo guard Johnson figures to play, whether it’s off the bench or starting in favor of Melton, who isn’t expected back from injury until after the All-Star break.

Crawford didn’t score and had four assists in 10 minutes.

Due to Okobo’s inconsistent play, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Johnson starting Friday if he can pick up the offense quickly enough.

There are also some occasional minutes at two guard available for Johnson should head coach Igor Kokoskov elect to play him there. Behind Booker, the Suns have not played a traditional guard and instead one of their wings. With limited bodies on Wednesday, Troy Daniels played 14 minutes in a backup role.

For more on Johnson and coverage of the 1 p.m. trade deadline Thursday, tune in to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Penguin Air

Empire of the Suns

Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges, left, celebrates with forward Cameron Johnson (23) during the s...
Kellan Olson

The Twins: Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson are Phoenix Suns’ heart and soul

Inside the bond between Phoenix Suns forwards Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson that makes them known as The Twins.
14 hours ago
Adelaide 36ers' Craig Randall II (12) celebrates back to back three pointers against the Phoenix Su...
Kellan Olson

Suns shockingly upset by NBL’s Adelaide 36ers in preseason opener

Well, take what you want from it, but the Suns' 134-124 loss to the Adelaide 36ers in the preseason opener was undeniably shocking.
2 days ago
(Twitter photo/@LWashingtonTV)...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns’ open practice draws terrific turnout north of 10,000 fans

The Phoenix Suns' open practice at Footprint Center on Saturday drew well north of 10,000 fans, a huge jump in attendance from the year prior.
4 days ago
Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns attempts a three-point shot over CJ McCollum #3 of the New ...
Kellan Olson

Monty Williams confirms Cam Johnson will start for Phoenix Suns this season

It was more or less presumed to already be the case but Monty Williams on Thursday confirmed that Cam Johnson will be starting.
6 days ago
Chris Paul #3, Cameron Johnson #23 an Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns react during Game Four ...
Kellan Olson

Suns sprinting out of gates at camp thanks to continuity for players, coaches

An extended break in the offseason for the Phoenix Suns and even more continuity has them scrimmaging right away to start training camp.
6 days ago
Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los An...
Kellan Olson

Cam Johnson ready for elevated role with Suns in Jae Crowder’s absence

While Jae Crowder's impact will be missed, Phoenix Suns wing Cam Johnson has proven he's ready and deserves to be a starter.
7 days ago
Josh Jackson’s strong performance not enough for Suns to win on road