Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty

One giant step forward for Utah, one small step back for Sunkind. Or, as Coach Alvin said, “It was more what they did than what we didn’t”

What “they” did was blow the Suns right out of their own building with a 41-point fourth-period blast that basically washed three periods of pretty decent play at both ends of the court right down the drain.

But although the Jazz richly deserved Alvin’s praise for their fourth period execution (no pun intended), an autopsy of the corpus delecti, so to speak, also revealed several all too familiar self-inflicted wounds, most notably failure to hold leads, points yielded off turnovers, and inability to keep teams off the offensive boards.

The Suns had a 13-point lead in the second period and a still had 11 of it at 7:43 in the fourth, but they wound up paying the usual price for failing to really put a worthy opponent away when they had a chance, which was in periods one through three when the visitors couldn’t hit a barn door from inside the barn.

Gentry said he had a premonition of potential problems at halftime when he looked at the stat sheet and noted his team had shot 65 per cent from the field to Utah’s 40 and yet led by only eight.

That trend continued through the third period, but in what was the most impressive fourth period performance by a visiting team in recent memory the Jazz hit 68 per cent, including a crushing 7 of 11 threes, dominated the boards, and all but completely shut down the NBA’s most potent offense.

The easiest, and perhaps most comforting explanation for that 41-22 fourth period is that the Suns came down with a case of the chronic back-to-backitis virus that has been so rampant in the league this year. Or, in layman’s terms, they simply ran out of gas.

However, Gentry refused to grab this lifeline, citing it as a fact but not an excuse. Still, the Suns did seem a half step slow down the stretch. And it didn’t help matters that they not only continue to be at or near the top in turnovers, but pay a higher price for them than any other team. The tendency is to look only a turnover totals, but a more significant number is points off them — and last night-s 13-24 deficit was painfully close to normal.

It also didn’t help that the Suns were without Goran Dragic (ankle). He often provides that extra push, especially in the second period when Steve Nash usually rests, that often turns 13 point leads 23-point ones.

The bottom line: As disheartening as the loss was, it was only one game. In fact, it was only one period. The good news is the Suns are still perched on the cusp of a fourth seed in the West, their next six games are at home, and there’s even a five-day layoff in that stretch to get ready for a visit from the Lakers. Of course, on the flip side, if this was indeed a prevue of a coming first round attraction in the playoffs, Suns fans might not want to see the movie.

  • jf2814

    A “giant step forward for Utah”? Please. You act as if the Suns have owned the Jazz over the last few years, when the inverse is far closer to the truth.

    The larger truth is this: Utah, while flawed positionally (lack a C with shot blocking ability and a consistent 2), are built for the playoffs. The Suns are not.

    Utah are, as it was with Stockton and Malone, a halfcourt team that can also play a fullcourt, fastbreak game. The Suns are limited due to Nash’s selfsame limitations: he can’t run a halfcourt offense and, within that same schema, the Suns have no real post game.

    You won’t beat a true halfcourt team in the playoffs with that.

    You better hope that the Suns avoid Utah.

    But then, after last season, perhaps the Suns’ giant step forward is just making the playoffs.

  • kineticpen

    I believe the loss was a result of something even more simple. We missed our threes in the fourth and they made theirs. I thought the suns played great throughout the game. Furthermore, I thought we played pretty well in the fourth. 22 points for most NBA teams is a decent scoring quarter. The Jazz scoring 40 plus is comical. We are talking about a team that doesn’t even take that many threes in a game, and they end up hitting seven for eleven. I mean come on! There is way too much analyzing going on in this loss. It’s simple. The Jazz had a uncanny fourth quarter and we couldn’t match it. It happens. Any given night my friends, any given night.


    What real Suns fan can say we were ever anything but just hopeful to at least make the playoffs this season? Look, the Jazz are in my opinion one of 3, (Suns included) teams that are weak playoff contenders. The main reason in the Suns case is lack of consistency, whether holding a lead and/or having the team energy and concentration to finish. This has been a season long problem with the Suns and contributes to the lack of respect we get when Western playoff powers are mentioned. Personally, I believe the Jazz are one potential playoff team the Suns beat in a playoff series. Whatever the final 8 positions are you still have to go through the Lakers. Reality is a drag.

  • Max

    I think coach Gentry has done a great job with the Suns. However, last night in the 4th qtr. the Suns just seemed to have left the building,with the exception of J.Rich. 18 Turnovers and still ahead? Suns did not rebound on either board and did not play defense in the 4th qtr. The entire game the Jazz also looked very out of “sink”. Had the Suns not just Quit playing in the 4th qtr. The Suns would have won by about 8 points. The Jazz did not get “hot” in the 4th, the Suns just seem to stop playing, no kind of competition against the Jazz. At the end of the 3rd qtr. with all those turn overs still ahead? They should have just made an announcement;Fans the Suns have left the building. They played fair the first three qtrs. except for all the turnovers. “need more practice in Catch and Pass”,I cannot believe the turnovers in one game in the NBA.Coach
    wants to keep up their spirits by saying they did fair. Where was he when the 18 turnovers occured and then the 4th qtr. well he must have left the Gym with the team.Tweet at Cactusroundball.To get even out of the Pacific division, Suns have to show up for 4 qtrs. No putbacks, that had looked so good in early games did not exist last night, Amare went to sleep on the defense end. Jared looked like he was about to pass out, Frye no longer hitting his speciality and Defense for Frye? Please. Robin trys to play before he has the ball secure in his hands, then only can make a Basket IF he is underneath the goal. Suns need to get that young guy some help, like the Orlando Magic and the LA Lakers did for their big men. Robin cannot hit two feet from the basket, he seems to always hit the front rim and the ball bounces off. I would think he could see what he is doing and make that correction.But I have the Faith, that we will never see that kind of playing again. GO SUNS.

  • Andy Buckdawg

    I’d love Suns vs. Jazz in the playoffs. It would be unfortunate for Utah fans, but it’s a series I don’t doubt we’d win over the stretch.

    So the Jazz had a lucky 4th quarter. It was just the right time for it. Had it been the 3rd, it would have still left time for a Suns rally. 7 out of 11 3′s in the 4th quarter isn’t going to happen for the Jazz every game, and the Suns biggest mistake was giving them the space to shoot them. Had they not taken a step back and played all too casual in the 4th, the Jazz would have been blown out, period.

    The Sun’s post game and post defence has picked up dramatically with Lopez starting and Amare at SF, and to say Nash can’t run a half-court offence is naive at best, he most certainly can, given that they only run in transition now. A sloppy 4th by the Suns is the ONLY reason the Jazz walked away with the win here, and had just 1 or 2 of those 3′s missed, we’d certainly be looking at a different result.