EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Phoenix Suns keep ball movement zipping in win over Jazz

Feb 8, 2024, 11:15 PM

Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns dunks during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Footprint...

Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns dunks during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Footprint Center on February 08, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The minutes for the Phoenix Suns without Devin Booker have been the team’s biggest issue over a resurgent stretch the last six weeks, so Thursday’s matchup with the Utah Jazz was problematic considering all 48 would not involve him.

But with Booker absent due to a sore left hip, Phoenix put forth one of its best offensive performances of the season in a 129-115 win.

“We had guys in and out the lineup all season so we kind of understand what our roles are when guys go out,” Kevin Durant said. “It’s next-man mentality in the league.”

The ball movement and pace were phenomenal. Nothing reflected that better than Grayson Allen’s career-high 14 assists (in three quarters), as a guy who is going to generate those types of numbers not off being heavily involved in the offense but if the team play is at a high level.

It was and everyone did their job.

Durant scored 19 of his 31 in the first quarter, Jusuf Nurkic had pockets of the game he dominated and Bradley Beal was great as well. Durant and Beal had seven assists apiece while Beal put up 30 points. Eric Gordon’s 19 points on eight shots, 12 points and seven rebounds out of reserve Drew Eubanks and a six-point, two-block Bol Bol outing that once again rocked the crowd and pushed the night over the top.

Phoenix as a team had a season-high 37 assists.

“Our passing has been elite over the last few weeks,” head coach Frank Vogel said.

A 40-28 first quarter and 34-24 third quarter helped the Suns lead by 19 going into the fourth quarter. Utah, to its credit, was able to hang around offensively despite being shorthanded due to it trading three rotation players prior to Thursday’s trade deadline.

While the Suns dealt four players to get back Brooklyn’s Royce O’Neale and Memphis’ David Roddy, they dealt four players who weren’t expected to play against Utah anyway. Without Booker, it was Nassir Little who got a crack.

The Jazz at two different points in the fourth quarter got close to cutting the deficit down to single digits. It was at 11 with 3:45 left before a 7-0 Suns run ended things, the most solid fourth quarter for Phoenix.

Durant grabbed eight rebounds and also accumulated a pair of blocks and three steals. He shot 14-of-23 and was special all evening.

This was the type of win that can keep things moving for Phoenix while also kickstarting the momentum for the last bit of the regular season before the All-Star break. It is now 17-6 since Christmas.

“Once you hit this date, really it’s this and then All-Star,” Allen said. “You’re just locked in on the rest of the season and the playoffs at that point. There is no looming ‘what if?’ right now which is nice.”

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