It’s the most challenging back-to-back in the NBA.

Playing Golden State one night before taking on Phoenix less than 24 hours later is as brutal as it gets. The Warriors are the No. 2 team in the NBA and own the league’s top defense, while the Suns are the top team in the league. 

Unfortunately, that’s the reality of the Jazz’s situation. After suffering a heart-breaking loss to Golden State last night — a game lost by inches — Utah hopped on a plane and is now preparing to take on Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and the Suns tonight at 7 p.m. MST. 

After going through a rough patch the past couple of weeks, the game against the Warriors was something Utah can look back on as a good stepping stone in the right direction. 

Playing without Donovan Mitchell (concussion protocol) and losing Rudy Gobert for the final 2:30 (left calf strain) of the game, the Jazz overcame an eight-point deficit entering the fourth quarter with a chance to win it at the end. But Bojan Bogdanovic’s three-point attempt was just off the mark — literally — and Royce O’Neale’s tip-in attempt hung on the rim for an eternity before missing.

“I really thought that ball was going in,” Bogdanovic said. “And then we got the offensive rebound that didn’t go in. … Just unlucky. I really thought it was the game-winner.”

The game’s final play was representative of how much head coach Quin Snyder trusts his veteran squad, even without Mitchell on the court. He elected not to call a timeout and let the game play out, allowing his team to stay in a rhythm offensively and prevent the Warriors from setting up their defense.

“Very happy. … Not second-guessing that one,” Snyder said of the ending. “Bojan Bogdanovic is as clutch a player as there is. … Probably got a better look than if we’d drawn something up. And we got a rebound attempt, too.”

It’s been a rough month for the Jazz, especially after dealing with multiple injuries and health and safety protocols. Over the past nine games, Gobert and Mitchell have only played in two games together, all while missing critical pieces in Hassan Whiteside, Rudy Gay, and Joe Ingles for multiple games as well. 

The matchup with the Suns — who are on a six-game winning streak — gets no easier as Mitchell is still in concussion protocol and will not play. Gobert’s and Bogdanovic’s (knee contusion) statuses are undecided after they both suffered knocks late last night. 

“We’ve been through a lot this last month,” Gay said of being shorthanded. “We’re still going through a lot. Everybody’s been out for a little bit. … But we’ve been competitive almost every single night.”

Utah (30-17, 15-8 away / No. 4 Western Conference)
*114.2 Points Per Game (No. 1 in NBA)
*116.0 Offensive Rating (No. 1 in NBA)

*107.1 Points Per Game (No. 12 in NBA)
*108.8 Defensive Rating (No. 10 in NBA)

*Rudy Gobert: 16.0 points / 15.1 rebounds / 2.3 blocks / 70.7% shooting
*Bojan Bogdanovic: 18.1 points / 4.2 rebounds / 38.7% 3P-shooting
*Jordan Clarkson: 15.2 points / 3.5 rebounds / 26.2 minutes
*Mike Conley: 14.0 points / 5.2 assists / 42.4% 3P-shooting

Phoenix (36-9, 18-5 home / No. 1 Western Conference)
*112.5 Points Per Game (No. 3 in NBA)
*112.1 Offensive Rating (No. 5 in NBA)

*104.5 Points Per Game (No. 6 in NBA)
*104.2 Defensive Rating (No. 2 in NBA)

*Devin Booker: 24.3 points / 5.3 rebounds / 4.4 assists / 38.5% 3P-shooting
*Chris Paul: 14.1 points / 10.1 assists / 4.3 rebounds
*Mikal Bridges: 12.2 points / 4.1 rebounds / 38% 3P-shooting
*Cam Johnson: 11.6 points / 42.3% 3P-shooting

Jordan Clarkson vs. Cam Johnson
— With Utah potentially severely hampered due to injuries, it means that tonight could be the night Clarkson fully lets loose. The reigning sixth manor the year, Clarkson has put together a solid season so him going nuclear tonight would give the Jazz a great chance at pulling out the win. On the other end, Johnson is key to Phoenix’s attack as one of the best three-point shooters on the team. His ability to provide a spark of the bench has been instrumental in the Suns’ hot start.

*Jordan Clarkson — 997 made three-pointers points

OUT — Donovan Mitchell (Concussion Protocol)

DOUBTFUL — Deandre Ayton (Right Ankle Sprain)
OUT — Jae Crowder (Left Wrist Contusion)
OUT — Frank Kaminsky (Right Knee Stress Reaction)
OUT — Abdel Nader (Right Knee Injury Management)
OUT — Cameron Payne (Right Wrist Sprain)
OUT — Dario Saric (Right ACL Tear)

Time: 7:00 p.m. MST
Location: Footprint Center / Phoenix, AZ
TV: AT&T SportsNet / NBATV
Radio: 1280 The Zone 


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