Phoenix Suns 110, Utah Jazz 94: Suns bounce back

Phoenix had every opportunity to blow another big lead Thursday.

Anybody who has watched the Suns for the past few years might have gotten that same eerily familiar uneasy feeling in their stomachs.

Up 18 midway through the third quarter and seemingly cruising to an easy victory, Phoenix allowed Utah to run off 11 straight points to close the gap to seven.

Steve Nash scored 18 points in 33 minutes Thursday to lead the Suns to a big bounce-back win. (AP Photo/George Frey)

But just as quickly as the lead had disappeared, the Suns built it right back up.

Behind five straight points from Steve Nash, Phoenix absorbed the Jazz’ best punch and went on to win, 110-94.

“It was undoubtedly an important game for us tonight,” Nash told The Associated Press. “We learned our lesson and held our composure for longer stretches, and in particular, we held it together at the end of the game.”

The Suns (1-1) had a lot to be happy about coming off a disappointing opening-night loss against Portland just two nights prior.

Most notably being the performance of Hakim Warrick off the bench, as Michael Schwartz wrote in today’s Daily Dime.

The forward posted 18 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes (four more minutes than the starter Hedo Turkoglu played).

Warrick provided one of the many highlights of the night in the third quarter when he cocked back and posterized Jazz defender Paul Millsap.

Most encouraging from the highlight however, was not the dunk itself, but the pick-and-roll play that led to it.

Nash led a diving-to-the-paint Warrick with a picture perfect bounce pass to put the first-year Sun into SportsCenter highlight history.

With Amare Stoudemire gone, a big offseason worry was who would fill the open slot to play with the best pick-and-roll point guard in the league.

Well if Warrick’s play on Thursday is any barometer of how the season will go, the rest of the league might be in for a surprise.

Overall, Phoenix’s bench outscored their Jazz counterparts 50-16.

The complete second-team thrashing was helped by solid outings from both Channing Frye (14 points on 4-of-10 shooting) and Goran Dragic (11 points with a team-high six assists).

Another good sign from the game was the team rebounding the Suns took advantage of.

Even though Robin Lopez was limited to just 20 minutes of playing time because of foul trouble, the Suns still managed to secure 44 boards, just one less than the Jazz (0-2) got.

In the third quarter, Lopez sat down with six and a half minutes to play with five personals. Upon re-entering the game in the fourth quarter, the center fouled out shortly after.

With a small lineup in, the Suns found a way to secure long rebounds and drained the resulting wide-open three-pointers.

For the game, Phoenix shot 46 percent from the field.

The Suns made arguably their biggest statement just before halftime.

After two Andrei Kirilenko free throws cut the Phoenix lead to 11, the Suns went on to score five back-breaking points in the final 29 seconds of the half.

Jason Richardson sunk a 24-foot jumper with the shot clock expiring and then just a few seconds later after an Al Jefferson missed attempt, Nash hit Richardson in stride for a layup as time ran out.

Phoenix finished the half connecting on 7-of-13 three-point attempts. Conversely, the Jazz only made 1-0f-7.

The sequence at the end of the second quarter was a microcosm of how Utah played for the better part of three quarters Thursday: uninspired and lazy.

The team, coming off a 22-point opening-night loss to Denver, showed little fire coming out of the gate and the Suns subsequently jumped on the Jazz early and never trailed.

Leading the way for Utah was Al Jefferson with 20 points and nine rebounds. Millsap added 19 points and 13 boards.

Six Suns scored in double figures and all 10 players who entered the game played at least 15 minutes.

The balanced effort was a welcomed sight after not seeing much continuity throughout the preseason and first regular season game.

Tags: Hakim Warrick Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Recap Steve Nash

  • Al

    This was a good win for Phoenix. I still think that Warrick should be the starting 4 for the suns and that Turk should come off the bench. Turkoglu almost fouled out and I saw how Gentry looked at him after he got his 4th personal. I am guessing Gentry is fully aware that the team is going to have to make a trade for a pure power forward before the end of the year. (Jason Thompson for Phoenix future draft pick?) The team did great rebounding the ball and I hope it will be like this all season, but I doubt it. Phoenix is not going to be a great offensive rebounding team since they have too many shooters and not a very strong presence at the paint like a Dwight Howard. (One sun player against 3 opposing defenders makes it tough to catch an offensive rebound.) I like Hakim and see him a Stoudemire Lite, but I also worry that he might get injured from falling. The Lakers are next and is a good thing that Phoenix is playing them early, because it will allow for them to see if they have a shot at beating LA with the current roster.

  • Mel.

    The funny thing about the Suns’ ability to turn back the Jazz surge was almost entirely dependent on Nash’s grit and reliability.

    It seems like the loss of STAT has finally put Nash back into an awareness that he can generally score at will, and that he doesn’t HAVE to go slugging the ball into the paint, trying to get Amar’e started up. I lost count of how many times this approach led to turnover after turnover last season (Especially in the miserable third quarter of the WCF’s Game Six), so it’s actually extremely reassuring to see indications that Nash is back in “first option” mode.

  • KJ Loyalist

    Good win, it’s just one win, but I’m glad that a lot of our supporters have backed off of the panic button.

    Getting really sick of playing the Lakers on the back end of back to backs, but I digress.

    To those of you who also dabble in a little bit of DDL fun, (and to Mike and Michael if you read this), please take note.

    The Hakim “The Dream” Lite name is terrible. Lets clean it up a little bit.

    I’m offering up “Prince Hakim” for sampling. Kind of like Coming to America but he’s Coming to PHX to dominate.

    Plus, “Nashty / Two Time to Prince Hakim!!!” or:

    “DRAGON!!! with a fireball to Prince Hakim!!!” sound far superior.

  • Kevin

    Nice win! Seeing Hakim develop confidence in the game was awesome. If he keeps diving hard to the basket, defenses have to respect that like they respected Amare’s rolls. And seeing Childress D-ing it up w/ Dudley was nice.

    Rebounding really worries me though. If we can limit the offensive rebounds, our defense will be solid. The problem w/ Turk in the second unit is that Turk and Frye will get killed on the boards. If only Clark was good =

    Quick question: What exactly is Hedo’s contract? How much is guaranteed?

  • Steve

    @KJ Loyalist – I’m not off the panic button. I do agree that tonight’s game won’t be a great barometer for the future, as we’re playing a rested Lakers team while we’re on the wrong end of a traveling back to back, but I still think the rest of the first half of the season will go more like the Blazers game (hanging in there, getting blown out in the fourth) than last night.

    @Kevin – I haven’t taken the time to look up the specifics, but as far as I know, I don’t think there is any significant player in the NBA who has a deal that involves non-guaranteed money. So, if Turkoglu is supposed to get $44M over the next four years, that’s how much he’s going to get unless he gets bought out of his current contract.

    Did you know that AK47 is making $18M this year? So much for Hedo being overpaid. Wow! Other notables, Vinsanity – $17.3M, Stojakovic – $15.3M, K-Mart – $15.9M, and perhaps the worst of all, Rashard Lewis – $20.5M.

  • Joe

    @Kevin – You should check out HoopsHype.Com. Once you get to their main page, click salaries and you can view any teams “cap situation” for the next 5-6 years, including who they’re paying, for how much, what years are player options, team options, etc..

    As for the Suns, this is more of what I expected coming into the year. I think they still have a good team, and can definitely do some things in the playoffs. Tonight, Dragic played great, and he needs to be aggressive like that every night. Like I said before, Goran doesn’t need to be just “one of the gang” with that bench. He needs to look to dominate.

    Hakim Warrick is a perfect replacement for Amare. I’m not saying he’s as good, but the ability to jam home anything around the basket was Amare’s greatest skill on this team. We still have it with Warrick.

    The big problem now is Hedo Turkeyglue. He actually hasn’t played terribly and I’m very happy that he doesn’t seem to be just laying back, collecting his money, and eating donuts. But he doesn’t have a defined roll on this team, and I can’t envision what that role might be in the future.
    With Nash (justifiably) handling the ball so much, Hedo is just shooting 3′s and/or going one on one against a man, before shooting a step back shot. It’s ugly and slows down the offense. Moving to the bench doesn’t seem to be the solution either, because Dragic handles the ball a lot for them.

    In Gentry we trust, I suppose.

  • Ryan

    Hakim Hakim Hakim!! The offense has such a better flow with him and nash running the pick n roll then anyone else. The offense is so slow and stale with Hedo in but it flows better when Hedo is on the floor with Dragon.

    Hopefully Coach can see the change and make it work!

  • Michael Schwartz

    @Kevin et al We also have a salary page here at VotS:

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  • Kyle S

    I was at the game (yes!) and it was obvious that Warrick was playing with the 1st squad alot more and that he was actually playing well. He missed some easy jumpers but the hustle and pick & rollwas definitely there.

    Turoglu started off well and I was surprised but then he sat on the bench until the last 5 mins of the game.

    Hats off to Dragic, he played well and had an awesome dunk over a tall player bad seats, couldn’t see who). With Nash shooting more I wouldn’t be surprised if Nash plays less minutes and they transition Dragic a little more with more minutes.

    Overall I did notice that the routine they played Nash last year was diff than this game. He seemed to have a minutes routine about when he’d sit out of the game to rest but this game seemed diff and they relied on Dragic for most of the 4th quarter (even though the game was about over in the 4th).

    Nice win

  • Kevin

    Cool, thanks for the answers!

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