Devin Booker’s supreme start to the season as the Phoenix Suns’ point guard continued in Utah with a career-high 15 assists in a 131-128 win over the Jazz on Friday, the first for Phoenix in the tournament of the season.
Booker has proven with each season that he is noticeably improving, and with this development, the two-guard has also become one of the best playmakers in the world. So with him actually playing the position this year and that guarantee that he would improve again, it seemed logical to believe in this type of “breakthrough” if you even want to call it that was on the agenda for Booker during a full year of “Point Book”. »
Devin Booker had a career-high 15 ASTs in the @Suns Victory for Group A West this evening 🤝🏆
24 PTS, 4 CER, 15 AST pic.twitter.com/AerOxker8h
-NBA (@NBA) November 18, 2023
He really sees the ground in a different way than most at the moment, knowing how to change its dimensions to get what he wants, which is just a good move. He doesn’t care who takes it. He did it Friday with just one turnover, channeling his own Chris Paul, becoming the eighth player in franchise history with more than 15 assists and one or fewer turnovers in a game, according to Stathead. Booker added 24 points.
Booker and Kevin Durant scored or assisted all 14 of the Suns’ first-quarter goals and a terrific game from Durant as well with 38 points (15 for 22), nine rebounds, nine assists and a turnover should have meant a dominant victory of Phoenix given the offensive firepower.
But it was hard to move away from an adjective like lazy to describe this one’s defensive performance, as several open dunks, layups and 3s for Utah were due to a missed turnover by a Sun when they didn’t were not moving with the required urgency or not moving at all. Utah is in contention for having the least talented team in the league, but allowing that against anyone can allow players to get into enough rhythm to maintain an offensive pace led by two MVP candidates.
Phoenix (6-6) took a 14-point lead in the aforementioned first quarter, but it ended with the Suns leading by just three points and Utah (4-8) continued to trail, aided by his good looks, ultimately leading to the points. in the game.
With 3:12 left in the third quarter and the Suns down by four, head coach Frank Vogel inserted wing Nassir Little into the rotation alongside Booker, Keita Bates-Diop, Jordan Goodwin and Drew Eubanks. The wing trio specifically makes its mark defensively and it was a great move from Vogel that located enough of a defensive spark to get the Suns out of it. They quickly built the lead by eight less than two minutes into the final quarter.
The Jazz continued to score enough to stay within range before Durant’s back-to-back buckets gave Phoenix a 124-115 lead with 3:11 to play. It’s the kind of advantage a good-to-great team will normally use to take down a bad team, but the Jazz fought back with eight straight games in less than two minutes to make it a one-point game.
Durant had two free throws that he made with 52 ticks to play, and after Utah responded with two of their own free throws, he made a nasty pull-up 3 to effectively ice the game at 129- 125 with 18 seconds left.
-Phoenix Suns (@Suns) November 18, 2023
For good measure, Bates-Diop made an outstanding block on Utah’s Lauri Markkanen to seal it on the next possession.
KBD. CLUTCH. DEFENSE. pic.twitter.com/mKaiEeBzzl
-Phoenix Suns (@Suns) November 18, 2023
Durant has simply been Kevin Durant this year, looking like one of the best to ever do it and not losing any of that form anytime soon at age 35. If you weren’t a Durant watcher long before he came to the Valley and were a little surprised by comments last year about him not quite measuring up to what we usually see of him, that’s what it was referring to.
His phenomenal form allowed Phoenix to maintain possession of the game when their poor defense for almost three quarters could have allowed them to chase down a tough one on the road.
Bates-Diop is making it increasingly difficult for Vogel to keep Yuta Watanabe’s shot in the wing rotation, as he has put together a good effort the last week and a half with impact plays on both ends. It was seven points, three rebounds, two steals and three blocks for him in Utah.
Phoenix had just eight turnovers and produced 35 assists, another good sign that Booker’s presence will help solve turnover issues through 10 games.
Drew Eubanks provided 11 points coming off the bench and closed out the final minute against Jusuf Nurkic, who had a tough night defensively with the way some of his more passive coverages were carved up by Utah. Nurkic went 7-for-7 from the foul line with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four turnovers. Vogel also went with a frontcourt of Bates-Diop and Durant in the second half for a few minutes. To note!
It was one of those nights with Jordan Clarkson. The heat-checked flamethrower guard had 37 points to keep Utah inside.
The Suns are now 1-1 in the season tournament and will likely need to win to have any chance of topping their group and advancing, which could come down to a point differential tiebreaker.
Phoenix was again without Bradley Beal (lower back sprain), who will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
Gn En sports