1. With Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Leandro Barbosa out, the Suns are a pretty easy team to defend.
Without those three guys, they really don’t have anyone who can excel coming off the pick and roll and begin forcing the cataclysmic series of rotations that the Suns offense is built on exploiting. In particular, they like to swing the ball until they’re able to get a corner three, one of the most efficient shots in the game.
Before the game, David Locke asked Jeff Hornacek about why his team is able to get so many threes: “When you have Goran and Eric Bledsoe, it opens those up because teams have to kinda collapse on those guys. Tonight it might be a little bit difficult to get those shots.” Indeed it was, as the Suns shot only 19 threes, well below their average of 25 per game. Only three of those shots were corner threes, and the Suns made none of them.
Instead, the Jazz defenders had a much easier task: to simply stay close to their man. This left the Suns to try to create one-on-one, which this crew simply isn’t very good at. NBA stars can get restricted area layups from one-on-ones, but the Suns last night don’t have those kinds of talents. As a result, they were only able to get 24 restricted area shots (making just 15, thanks Derrick Favors!). And in the mid-range, they really struggled, going just 3-16 within the paint (but outside of the restricted area) and 7/21 outside of the paint. It was a really complete defensive performance by the Jazz, made much easier by the Suns deficit of penetrating talent.
2. There were some pretty cool dunks in this game.
I could talk about them. But Youtube seems more effective. Can we get Gerald Green in the dunk contest again?
3. I’m giving Gordon Hayward the triple-double, unofficially.
Yes, Gordon Hayward finished one assist shy of the technical triple-double, with his 17 point, 10 rebound, 9 assist performance that showed exactly how valuable he can be, even without making all of his shots. But given that Hayward was pulled out of the game with more than 5 minutes to go, it seems like if things were fair, Hayward would have gotten the first triple-double (Carlos Boozer) for the Jazz since 2008 against Seattle. Boozer got an assist in that game with under a minute to go with the Jazz up 18, if Hayward would have been given the same opportunity, I think he picks it up.
Also, Hayward had 3 secondary (or “hockey”) assists in the game, as many as the entire Phoenix team, as well as the rest of the Jazz combined. I’d say that’s a pretty good passing performance, good enough to earn the Andy Larsen Triple-Double, anyway.