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SALT LAKE CITY -- One step forward and two steps back was the way it went for the Utah Jazz Thursday night as they dropped their first home game of the regular season to the Phoenix Suns 110-94 at EnergySolutions Arena.
The Jazz opened their Salt Lake City debut by letting the Suns jump out to a 10-2 lead before putting together a successful offensive or defensive set. There were just 10 men on the floor, but there seemed to be too much purple on the hardwood for the Jazz to get around.
Midway through the quarter, the Jazz started to show signs of life and managed to cut their deficit to five before the quarter ended behind the combined effort of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap as the two teamed up to tally 10 points and eight rebounds. The effort put the Jazz in the position to claim what would have been their first lead of the game before heading into the second quarter, but 20 percent three-point shooting and five missed free throws cut the attempt short.
The duo's pattern of efficiency continued throughout the duration of the game, but so did Utah's shakiness on offense and defense. With too many of their own road blocks set and cemented, the forwards' performance was unable to make the dent that 39 points from two post players can usually have in a game.
I think the energy was there, there was just a lot of mental mistakes, a lot of shots we missed.
"I think the energy was there, there was just a lot of mental mistakes, a lot of shots we missed," Jefferson said. "Things just didn't go our way."
By night's end, Jefferson and Millsap posted 20 and 19 points, respectively, and together, pulled down 22 boards. However, Utah's turnovers and failure to convert on opportunity plays continued to hold the Jazz captive in their own house.
"I think a lot of it had to do with our shot selection. We need to make some shots out on the perimeter, which we didn't do very well tonight, and that's what got them in the open court," coach Jerry Sloan said. "We weren't consistent enough with it the whole game."
In the third quarter, after the Jazz fought to trim the Suns' 16-point halftime lead to seven, Nash posted five quick points and put Phoenix back in front with a comfortable advantage.
Later in the third, Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko drained a pair of three-pointers and Williams put the crowd on its feet with a highlight-worthy dunk on a pass from Kirilenko. But immediately after, the Jazz acquired their second technical foul and gave up a three on the other end of the floor.
The expectation was very high. We realize that, and we'll see what happens with it.
After a nightlong back-and-forth battle with the scoreboard and the Suns' interior offense, Phoenix's Robin Lopez fouled out with four minutes left in the game, but the Jazz were unable to get back in tune, moving their record to 0-2 after posting a perfect 8-0 preseason mark for the first time in franchise history.
"The expectation was very high," Sloan said. "We realize that, and we'll see what happens with it."