The Jazz put up a fight both early and late, but the Suns were simply the better team and that played out over the course of the full 48 minutes. The result was a 112-101 win by the Suns as Eric Bledsoe returned to the court after missing the last six games.

Summing it Up

The Suns got off to a slow start, but once they weathered that initial storm it was all Phoenix as the Suns cruised to a 112-101 victory. The Jazz put up a fight in the fourth quarter, but the deficit was too muh for them to overcome. Eric Bledsoe returned after missing six games and made his presence felt, while Markieff Morris was dominant off the bench to lead the six Suns in double-figures. Marvin Williams came out of nowhere to have a big game for the Jazz, but it wasn't nearly enough.

Telling the Story

Utah came out ready to play, while the Suns did not. The result was a 9-0 start for the Jazz. However, Phoenix responded with 11 of the next 13 points (nine of which were scored by Goran Dragic) to tie the game a little more than four minutes in.

The two teams traded buckets for the next few minutes until Phoenix took control with three 3-pointers (two by Gerald Green and one by Channing Frye) to go ahead 25-20.Markieff Morris checked in and scored almost instantly, foreshadowing what was to come, and then Eric Bledsoe made his first appearance with just under three minutes left in the quarter, replacing Goran Dragic.

Unfortunately, the Suns' offense sputtered without Dragic, as they managed just a layup and pair of Morris free throws in the final three minutes while Utah ripped off nine points of their own to take a 33-31 lead after one.

The teams traded baskets for the first half of the second quarter, and Phoenix held a 44-43 lead at the midway point. Then the Suns stepped it up and closed out the half on a very balanced 18-8 run with four different Suns doing the damage. Phoenix led 62-51 at halftime.

Phoenix built up the lead even more with a 33-27 third quarter, including a big 10-point period by Keef Morris. By the end of the quarter, the Suns had nearly hung 100 on the Jazz and led 95-78.

Utah fought back in the fourth quarter, but the hole was too deep to dig out of and they never got closer than 11 and the Suns cruised to a 112-101 victory.

Stand-out Performers

  • Markieff Morris: Keef finished with 23 points on 8-13 shooting. He beat the Utah defense again and again in a variety of ways, hitting a three, going a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe and hitting shots inside and out.
  • DragonBlade: Both guys were really good tonight, and fittingly both ended up with 19 points. Dragic did it on 7-12 from the field and 5-5 from the line with nine assists, three rebounds and two blocks, and most of his work came in the first half with 17 points and six assists. Bledsoe did it on 7-11 shooting and 4-6 from the line with six rebounds, three steals and two assists. It's good to have Bledsoe back on the court, and Dragic continued to put up his typical excellent numbers.
  • Miles Plumlee: Big game from Plumlee as he recorded another double-double with 15 and 10 with two assists and one block to finish a game-high +24.

Final Thoughts

  • Dave just wrote about how focused the Suns have been on taking 3-pointers, but tonight it was their work inside the arc that led to victory. The Suns were only 8-25 from deep, but they made up for it by shooting 33-50 from two and getting to the free-throw line 25 times (hitting 22).

  • Channing Frye finished tonight's game with a respectable 13 points on 5-7 shooting (3-5 from deep) and in the process surpassed 5,000 career points. Congratulations Mr. Frye.
  • The Suns beat a bad team. Good job. Now don't let up tomorrow at home.

Maybe it was a win against the lowly Utah Jazz, but it was probably a bitter-sweet moment for Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek. The former Jazz legend returned to Salt Lake City on Friday to lead his...

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Eric Bledsoe returns to the court tonight as the Suns take on the worst team in the NBA.

Suns @ Jazz

  • Records: PHX 8-7 (3rd, Pacific); UTA 2-14 (Last, NBA)
  • Time: 6 p.m. Pacific, 7 p.m. Arizona, 8 p.m. Central, 9 p.m. Eastern
  • TV: Fox Sports Arizona
  • Radio: Arizona Sports 620, NBA Audio League Pass

Previous Meeting

These two teams met up in the second game of the year. Both teams struggled offensively all game, and Goran Dragic kicked off his streak of leaving games early with injury. Utah's top three players, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, each finished with a double-double.

But it was Eric Bledsoe who turned out to be the star of the game. After having an awful first three quarters, Bledsoe exploded in the fourth after Dragic went down, scoring 17 of his team-high 18 points in the final period. In fact, Bledsoe scored the final 14 points for the Suns including the game-winning 3-pointer with less than a second left in the clock.

Injury Report

For the Suns, Eric Bledsoe has missed six straight games with a bruised shin that just won't heal. Paul Coro says it looks like Bledsoe will give it a go tonight, however.

Alex Len continues to be day-to-day with his sore ankles. Hopefully he can get over this and get back to full strength at some point in the not too distant future. Len has shown some flashes, but he can't get any better if he can't play.

For the Jazz, center Enes Kanter is a game-time decision with a sprained ankle. He missed Utah's last game against Chicago, but it sounds like he'll play tonight as well.

Suns


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Eric Bledsoe 9 34.8 6.9 13.8 50.0 1.1 3.8 29.4 5.6 6.7 83.3 0.6 4.0 4.6 6.8 3.9 1.8 0.1 2.0 20.4
Goran Dragic 12 33.1 6.3 13.3 47.2 1.1 3.3 33.3 3.8 4.9 78.0 0.6 2.5 3.1 6.9 2.7 0.8 0.2 2.3 17.4
Gerald Green 15 29.0 5.3 11.5 45.7 2.5 6.6 38.4 1.6 2.1 77.4 0.7 2.3 2.9 1.4 2.1 0.7 0.5 2.9 14.7
Markieff Morris 14 25.9 4.7 9.6 49.3 0.4 1.0 35.7 2.6 3.4 78.7 1.6 4.4 5.9 1.8 1.3 1.2 0.2 2.2 12.4
Marcus Morris 15 23.1 3.6 7.9 45.8 1.3 3.2 41.7 2.2 2.8 78.6 1.5 4.0 5.5 1.0 1.9 1.1 0.2 1.9 10.7
Channing Frye 15 26.8 3.9 8.8 43.9 1.7 4.5 37.3 0.9 1.1 81.3 0.9 4.5 5.3 0.7 0.9 1.0 0.9 3.1 10.3
Miles Plumlee 15 29.3 4.5 9.1 49.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 2.4 38.9 2.3 6.2 8.5 0.4 1.5 0.6 1.9 2.5 9.9
P.J. Tucker 15 30.9 3.4 7.4 45.9 1.3 2.6 51.3 0.8 1.2 66.7 1.7 3.1 4.8 1.7 1.5 1.3 0.3 2.5 8.9
Archie Goodwin 14 12.3 1.6 4.2 39.0 0.1 1.2 11.8 0.5 0.9 58.3 0.4 1.4 1.8 0.5 1.1 0.5 0.4 0.7 3.9
Ish Smith 12 12.8 1.3 4.0 31.3 0.1 0.8 11.1 0.3 0.3 100.0 0.1 1.2 1.3 2.2 1.0 0.8 0.3 0.8 2.8
Dionte Christmas 10 8.5 1.0 2.4 41.7 0.4 1.1 36.4 0.3 0.4 75.0 0.3 1.2 1.5 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.0 0.9 2.7
Alex Len 4 7.8 0.8 1.8 42.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.5 50.0 1.3 0.5 1.8 0.3 0.8 0.5 0.5 2.0 1.8
Viacheslav Kravtsov 6 3.3 0.3 0.5 66.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.7 50.0 0.5 0.3 0.8 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.7 1.0


Goran Dragic is having a tremendous season for the Suns. As I wrote in my column earlier, Dragic is averaging 21 and nine assists in games he's both started and finished. Dragic has to be the guy to run the offense and get everyone else open looks. So much pressure is placed on Dragic every game, and for the most part he has handled that brilliantly.

As for the rest of the team, the Suns have four guys shooting 37 percent or better from the perimeter. Dragic is the first option on most plays, but if he can't get a shot off he's usually collapsing the defense and kicking out to a shooter. This season, those shooters are making teams pay.

The Morris Twins have both provided consistent production over the last few games. If they can continue to do so, the Suns can continue to win.

Jazz


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Gordon Hayward 16 36.9 5.9 15.3 38.8 1.3 4.1 30.8 3.7 4.7 78.7 1.1 4.4 5.5 5.1 3.3 1.4 0.6 2.3 16.8
Enes Kanter 15 31.8 5.9 11.7 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.1 2.8 73.8 2.9 4.1 7.0 1.1 2.1 0.1 0.7 3.3 13.8
Derrick Favors 16 33.0 5.0 10.5 47.6 0.0 0.1 0.0 3.0 4.9 60.8 3.0 6.9 9.9 1.5 2.5 1.5 1.4 3.8 13.0
Alec Burks 16 26.1 3.8 10.1 37.3 0.4 1.8 21.4 2.6 3.6 70.7 0.7 1.8 2.4 2.4 1.9 1.1 0.3 2.2 10.4
Richard Jefferson 16 29.6 3.6 9.1 39.0 1.4 4.0 35.9 1.8 2.4 76.3 0.4 2.4 2.8 1.8 1.8 0.7 0.3 2.3 10.4
Marvin Williams 10 24.6 3.5 7.9 44.3 1.6 3.8 42.1 0.7 1.1 63.6 1.3 3.6 4.9 0.9 1.1 0.9 0.5 2.9 9.3
Trey Burke 4 21.5 3.5 10.5 33.3 0.8 3.3 23.1 0.8 0.8 100.0 0.3 3.3 3.5 3.0 2.0 0.5 0.0 1.5 8.5
Jeremy Evans 4 17.3 4.0 5.0 80.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 100.0 2.0 1.8 3.8 1.0 1.8 1.0 1.0 2.5 8.3
John Lucas III 16 21.3 2.1 6.2 34.3 0.8 2.8 28.9 0.3 0.4 71.4 0.4 1.0 1.4 1.7 0.8 0.3 0.0 1.2 5.4
Diante Garrett 7 18.0 2.4 5.6 43.6 0.4 1.6 27.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.7 1.1 4.1 1.6 1.1 0.0 0.6 5.3
Mike Harris 13 12.5 1.2 3.0 38.5 0.0 0.2 0.0 1.7 1.8 95.7 0.8 1.1 1.8 0.3 0.6 0.9 0.3 1.8 4.0
Ian Clark 8 8.6 1.1 3.3 34.6 0.4 1.4 27.3 0.1 0.4 33.3 0.1 0.8 0.9 0.6 0.5 0.1 0.1 1.1 2.8
Rudy Gobert 13 11.8 0.8 1.8 45.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 2.2 37.9 1.8 3.1 4.8 0.2 1.2 0.3 0.8 2.0 2.5
Brandon Rush 1 9.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 2.0 0.0 0.0 2.0 0.0

The Jazz have been the worst team in the league, edging out the Milwaukee Bucks, and their tanking campaign appears to be going quite well.

Gordon Hayward has been struggling mightily with his shot as Utah's first option, but he's still doing a lot of good things for the Jazz and almost put up a triple-double the last time he played the Suns.

Derrick Favors is a double-double threat every night. and with Kanter back they have a very talented frontcourt.

One big difference from the first game is that rookie Trey Burke did not play in the first meeting. He's now healthy and has played in the least four. Burke has struggled mightily, but he was the Player of the Year in college basketball last season and can definitely burn the Suns if they let him.

Former Sun Diante Garrett has latched on with Utah, and has actually played fairly well for them. However, he was a DNP-CD in their last game against Chicago.

Starting Line-Ups

PG: Goran Dragic - Trey Burke

SG: Gerald Green - Gordon Hayward

SF: P.J. Tucker - Richard Jefferson

PF: Channing Frye - Marvin Williams*

C: Miles Plumlee - Derrick Favors*

*Bledsoe will come off the bench if he can play tonight, while Favors will likely start at center pushing Marvin Williams back to the bench.

Match-Ups to Watch

Goran Dragic vs. Trey Burke: Burke is a rookie, he;s under six feet tall and he hasn't played well so far. Dragic needs to take advantage and dominate this match-up.

P.J. Tucker vs. Gordon Hayward: I certainly hope this is the match-up, as I feel much less confident in Green's ability to slow down Hayward. Like Dragic is for the Suns, Hayward is the guy who is going to do most of the creating for the Jazz. Make things tough on him and the whole Utah offense will struggle.

Suns bigs vs Derrick Favors: Miles Plumlee, Channing Frye and Markieff Morris will all probably get their shot against Favors. They need to make him take tough shots in the post and keep him off the offensive glass.

Time: 7:00 pm MDT TV: FSAZ Nothing makes for a great Thanksgiving like juicy turkey, indulgent mashed potatoes, and a sound drubbing of one of the best teams in the NBA. The Phoenix Suns got to sit...

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Join me in giving thanks for this great game and the team that brings us together.

With refrigerators everywhere full of leftover turkey, I thought it was a good time to stop, reflect and give thanks for the greatest game in the world: basketball.

I truly am thankful for this game, and the NBA is the highest level of basketball there is. The NBA has given me and many others countless hours of entertainment and enjoyment. Some of my fondest memories have come in an NBA arena or in front of my television.

We've already had some amazing moments early on in the season. The best players in the game have put up some huge performances already.

LeBron James, as if he wasn't already good enough, is putting up 26-7-6 on 60 percent shooting. That is insane. James is doing it better than anyone else in the game. We should all be grateful for having the opportunity to watch an all-time great in his prime.

Kevin Durant isn't far behind James. With the handles and shooting of a guard and the length of a 7-footer, Durant is unguardable and as entertaining a player as there is in the league.

Chris Paul has put up a double-double in 14 of his 16 appearances on the court this season, including a 42-15 line against the Golden State Warriors.

There are plenty of others playing at a high level as well. Stephen Curry, Kevin love, Andre Iguodala and Kyle Korver (#KyleStreak) are just a few of my favorites. I'm sure all of you have favorite players across the league as well. Regardless of who it is, take some time to give thanks for getting to see these guys do their thing.

The East may be a mess right now, but at least two teams in the Pacers and Heat are playing at a high level. The West is competitive from top to (almost) bottom (not you, Utah), and it should remain that way throughout the season. There are going to be some fierce battles as the season goes on, and that is something else to be thankful for.

There is plenty to be thankful for with our team as well. Coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Suns have pulled almost a 1-80. I'm most thankful for the architects of that turnaround: Ryan McDonough and Jeff Hornacek. McDonough is a wizard on the trade market, turning almost every veteran on the team into a valuable asset and yet still improving the team. Hornacek has his team playing like, you know, a team. The defense is much more cohesive and effective and several players are having career years. Even P.J. Tucker has become a legitimate 3-point shooting threat.

I'm thankful for Eric Bledsoe, who is averaging 20, 7 and 5 in his first nine games as a starter. He has surpassed almost every expectation so far. Now he just needs to get healthy.

I'm thankful for the return of Channing Frye. After an entire year out of the game, it is incredible to see him back out there and playing as well as he ever has.

I'm thankful for Tucker, Gerald Green, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris are shooting 37 percent or better from 3-point range and for all of them having career years.

I'm thankful that Miles Plumlee has emerged as a legitimate rotation player.

But most of all on this roster, I'm thankful for Goran Dragic. Dragic's NBA career has had many ups and downs, from the ugly start to the 23 point quarter against San Antonio to being traded to Houston and now to being the Suns' best player. I the eight games that he has both started and finished (i.e. excluding the ones he left early with injuries) Dragic has averaged 21 points, nine assists and almost four rebounds per game. He's been terrific, especially considering for much of the season he's been the only legitimate threat to create offense on the team with Bledsoe's shin injury. Dragic continues to put up big numbers and is one of the biggest reasons the Suns are over .500 on the season.

Finally, I'm thankful for this blog. I owe so much to Bright Side of the Sun, and to all of you. When I found this blog in the summer of 2010, I was a high school kid who loved sports but had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn't until discovering this blog and the FanPost section that I realized I wanted to write about sports, and the reaction I got from those early posts gave me confidence that I could do it and encouraged me to go for it. Now, three-and-a-half years late, I'm a staff writer, a journalism major and am about to take over as the sports editor for the school paper. I've learned so much about the game of basketball from this site and have become a much better writer because of it. I've spent so many hours on this blog discussing the Phoenix Suns with all of you, and have enjoyed every minute of it.

So to you, Bright Siders, I just want to say thank you.

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