With point guard Goran Dragic sitting out Wednesday night after spraining his right ankle, the Phoenix Suns lost at the inferior Utah Jazz, 109-86. With the Memphis Grizzlies getting a win, they are now just half a game behind the Suns for the eighth spot in the NBA‘s Western Conference standings.
The Suns still have 25 games left and are unlikely to be without Dragic for very long. They will also welcome back guard Eric Bledsoe at what could be some point soon, but for now, this was an excruciating loss.
The Jazz have won just 20 games so far this season. They do have some good young talent to build around for the future; with Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Trey Burke, along with a top draft pick this season, the Jazz future looks promising.
The biggest uncertainty is what will happen with small forward Gordon Hayward, who will be a free agent this offseason. Also in question is the future of head coach Tyrone Corbin.
Youth development is really the thing the Jazz are playing for this season. They do have the ability to play spoiler against superior teams, and they did just that against the Suns.
Now, the Suns will need to rebound quickly. They play host to the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday and then to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. After that, they will endure a difficult four-game stretch. They will play two more games at home against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder before hitting the road for back-to-back contests against the Golden State Warriors and the Clippers again.
Coach Jeff Hornacek will need to get his team to refocus. They will need to play much harder and with greater passion, no matter if their star players are in or out of the lineup. They simply cannot be so reliant on their best players if they hope to make the playoffs this season.