Phoenix Suns 87, Utah Jazz 84 — Extension talk


PHOENIX – We’re sorry. Here’s an extension for you, Gordon Hayward. And here’s one for you, Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe struggled with foul trouble and bad decision-making while only playing eight first-half minutes Friday in U.S. Airways Center. But after teammate Goran Dragic left the game against the Utah Jazz with a right facial contusion, the Phoenix Suns guard made up for the questionable play.

On the day after he and the Suns (2-0) couldn’t agree upon a contract extension, Bledsoe scored the team’s final 14 points to finish the game and hold off the Jazz 87-84. Meanwhile, fellow non-extension earner Gordon Hayward nearly bested Bledsoe.

The Jazz down 84-81, Hayward hit a 25-foot three-point jumper atop the key and with P.J. Tucker sliding out of the way with 16.8 seconds left to give Utah a one-point lead. Out of Phoenix’s timeout, Bledsoe waited for the clock to wind down, waited more, waived off the oncoming Miles Plumlee screen and launched a three over Hayward at the same straight-on spot. Utah had only 0.7 seconds to score and didn’t. Game over.

Bledsoe finished with 18 points, six assists, two steals and five turnovers.

Dragic left the game after a scary collision with P.J. Tucker at the tail end of the first half. He attempted to return in the second but was pulled early with a right facial contusion. Phoenix shot just 37 percent, gave up 22 offensive rebounds but somehow survived.

Now, I try to answer three queries Ryan Weisert posed in our preview.

Which restricted free agent-to-be will look the most worth the money?

Two major reasons the Suns didn’t hand Bledsoe a big contract extension came to a front Friday. For one, he’s young. For another, he still has a long, long way to go if he’s going to play point guard for a winning team.

Bledsoe produced a point, three turnovers and three fouls that kept him to eight minutes played in the first half. He picked up his first foul pushing on a fastbreak but over-penetrating into the paint while out of control as Jazz player waited – Bledsoe picked up a charge. One of Bledsoe’s questionable plays came in the halfcourt, where from atop the key and without movement he attempted to fling the ball to the corner a la Carson Palmer throwing into triple-coverage. The only good thing of the play came when the ball was deflected into the Jazz’s Gatorade cooler.

As the Suns tried to reset off an offensive rebound with five minutes to play, Bledsoe seemingly backed the ball out but surprisingly tossed it to P.J. Tucker, who was walking to his position for the set and not even looking his teammates way.

But the ending? That was extension-worthy.

Gordon Hayward finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and nearly won Utah the game.

How will Miles Plumlee fair against Utah’s pair of highly touted young bigs?

The Suns had 10 blocks to one for the Jazz, a sign their smaller size was sneaking up on the Utah big men.

Plumlee and Channing Frye both had decent enough success pushing Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter off the block when they got caught on iso situations in the post. Plumlee recorded a double-double for the second game of his career and finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Not surprisingly, he did struggle holding the Utah bigs off the offensive glass.

Can the Suns keep up their pace?

After the Suns built a 29-23 first-quarter lead, the Suns’ offense significantly dropped off in the second quarter. Phoenix went 6-for-20 after shooting 10-for-20 in the first quarter. It hurt that they couldn’t corral enough defensive rebounds to push the ball up the court, through they did produce fastbreaks with the blocks.

In short, they picked their spots. Poor shooting nearly did them in, but Utah was worse at 36.5 percent.

  • vtsunrise

    Bledsoe: You can pay me now or you can pay me later…

  • Russell’s Suns

    So much for tanking. But seriously this was one sloppy game, both teams looked terrible and lost many times. But a win is a win. Bledsoe was terrible for 3 quarters, but came up clutch in the 4th QT. PlumLee and Tucker with another strong game. Dragic had to go to the locker room.

    If this team actually ends up half decent good, and doesn’t end up with a top 5 pick, it will be a good thing that the suns have 4 first round picks, they will need them to pull off a trade for a star player.

    But who knows maybe they will still end up with a top 3 pick.

    76ers and Suns 2-0

  • vtsunrise

    Bledsoe is superhuman. He just did the impossible. According to the Jazz announcer on NBA TV, he scored 17 of the Suns’ last 13 points. Wow.

  • Zack B.

    Well I expected us to win this game. I’m impressed, but not THAT impressed. Now if we were to pull off an upset against OKC like the T-Wolves did tonight, that would be amazing. What Bledsoe did in that 4th quarter is what we’re looking for. Someone who can take over. I honestly can’t remember the last time I shouted because the Suns won a game. I’d like that #1 pick, but I’m definitely not the type to get angry that we’re winning. I’m not one for tanking. On another note Plumlee showed some consistency, if he can average a double double that would probably secure Most Improved, but I’d be happy with 10 and at least 7 rebounds. The blocks have been great too. Too bad block of the night goes to Rudy Gay (blocked Teague’s dunk attempt, reminiscent of LeBron’s on Splitter). Overall I’m proud of these two games so far.

  • ShanMan

    Was watching on ESPN Gamecast. Thought Dragic was just pulled for shooting so bad haha. Didn’t know he got hit in the face. Whats with him and his face? Sasha hitting him in 2010, getting slapped in Euro ball this past Summer, etc. He’s really trying to be the next Nash getting beat up. Where’s Robert Horry at? Good to see Plum with another double double. That’s a solid player right there.

  • Mel.

    LOL, vtsunrise: I thought I was the only one who caught that. Now I really DO feel like we’re at a loss for not extending the guy, not even LBJ can bend the laws of time and space!

  • melon man

    Took the whole fam to the game tonight. Sloppy, sloppy game. I cringed when Bledsoe took that last shot but he made it so good deal. Plumlee looks promising. That collision looked brutal. Metal detectors at the gates is weird. And what’s up with no Gorilla trampoline dunks? Haven’t been to a game in person in a couple years… things have changed I guess.

  • SHAZAM

    some times the ugly games are because of defense..not so sure about this one..hey though the sun won :) :) :)

  • Scott

    @ShanMan -

    Dragic didn’t get hit in the face. He leapt high to steal a pass and collided full force with Tucker. As they fell, Dragic pretty much landed on his face … and with a nasty double bounce, at that.

    It looked to me like the Suns were worried he might have a concussion. That’s why he didn’t return.

  • vtsunrise

    Nice “extension” of my catch, Mel. Bending the laws of time and space. And mathematics. Yes, he’s a freak, I tell ya.

    Can’t wait to see the new NBA Power Rankings. I have a hunch the Suns are on the rise.

    No worries, all you folks, you want a brand new shiny tank for Christmas. They’ll lose plenty of games, too. And they’ll grab a bunch of talent in June, regardless of where they end up picking.

    This could be an interesting season…!

    And I like Bill Simmons’ better word to describe what management – not the players – have done in the Suns and other org’s: Sandbagging. Actually, I just looked it up: “hiding the strength, skill or difficulty of something or someone early in an engagement, may refer to: Sandbagging in billiards and other games…” – wiki.

    No, I think it’s more like disabling. The management have disabled, or differently abled the Suns. Who knew Plumlee would make us forget the Polish Hammer so quickly?

    Next? Oh, oh, K can you C? The tall lanky freaky dude will score 45 on the Suns, and who else will step up? No way the Suns will go 3-0? Right? …???

  • Luka

    Get Bledsoe his extension. Quit being cheap Sarver. Don’t let history repeat itself.

  • SkyBill40

    While I like Bledsoe’s tenacity and willingness to go hard to the basket, recklessness isn’t going to get you anywhere but sent to the bench due to foul trouble or turnovers. He’s still young and perhaps he’ll gain more first string maturity over time, but he’s somewhat of a mixed bag as of now.

    Is Bledsoe really worth a max extension? At this point, I say no but still expect that to be the cost of keeping him unless Sarver cheaps out as he’s so unfortunately known to do. If they let him sign with another team, everything done to get him will have essentially been for nothing. Again, I expect the Suns to match any offer at this point unless Bledsoe plays himself out of it.