The Phoenix Suns moved to 7-6 on the still young NBA season on Sunday night, as they outlasted the Utah Jazz in a double-overtime shootout, 140-137. The organization taking the opportunity to beat up on an opponent they’ve taken some wins off already this season.
In fact this was the team’s third victory over the Jazz, with the Portland Trail Blazers next up for the Suns. The chance to continue to pad out their win total against weaker opposition one that head coach Frank Vogel and his team have cashed in on. Combined with their impressive win over the Minnesota Timberwolves – their best of the season so far – the outlook is now a lot better.
The Suns rode their luck in the overtime win over the Jazz, and for the first time were on the right side of a key call by the referees at the end of the game.
With the clock winding down, it looked like Kevin Durant fouled Lauri Markkanen of the Jazz as he attempted a 3-point shot with time about to expire. Initially that was the call that was ruled on the floor, and it would have given Markkanen – a career 85.7 percent free-throw shooter, the chance to tie it up from the charity stripe and head to triple-overtime.
Only once the officials had a chance to go back and look at the play again, the initial ruling on the floor was overturned, and the Suns escaped Salt Lake City with a second straight win. Was it a foul? You can be the judge of that one, although if we’re being impartial here, there was some contact at the top between the two players, and Durant appeared to land in Markkanen’s area.
Had the Suns been on the the other end of this call, they rightly would have felt aggrieved. Last month, in a home double-header against the San Antonio Spurs in which the team dropped two straight games, they were on the receiving end of a shocking call from the officials that cost them the game right at the end of the second meeting.
It feels then like this has all evened itself out for the franchise, as it tends to do during a long regular season that ebbs and flows. Had the Suns been beaten by the Timberwolves and entered this second game against the Jazz in a mode of desperation, it may have been that this call wouldn’t have gone their way.
The ball has a habit of bouncing in such a way that when your luck is out, you don’t get these little calls. Instead the team did, and it was no more than Durant – who has been fantastic in the last few games – deserved for his do-it-all performances against both the Jazz and Timberwolves before that.
With Bradley Beal still several weeks away from even being re-evaluated to get back out there, and Devin Booker only finding his feet at this point in the season, it is nice for the Suns to carve out a win against a scrappy team on the road. The kind of win that ultimately came against the run of play at the end of double-overtime that will galvanize the group moving forward.
Next up is two home games against the aforementioned Trail Blazers, before Chris Paul returns to The Valley with the Golden State Warriors. It would be nice if the team didn’t have to rely on the match officials so late in the game to help them over the line – but as long as they keep riding their luck and getting the results they need – this team won’t care how they rack up wins.