Suns look for first In-Season Tournament win against Jazz; Beal out for weeks
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (3TV/CBS 5) — The Phoenix Suns hope to get back to .500 and get their first win in the In-Season Tournament as they travel to Utah to take on the Jazz on Friday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. and you can watch it on 3TV and Arizona’s Family Sports network. To find out how to watch, click/tap here.
The debut of Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker playing together will have to wait as Beal continues to recover from a low back strain. Friday afternoon, the Suns announced Beal will not play for the rest of the month and be re-evaluated in three weeks. That means the earliest he could return is during the In-Season Tournament (if the Suns advance) is from Dec. 4-9. Otherwise, the earliest regular season game he could play would be on Dec. 12, when Phoenix hosts the Golden State Warriors. Beal has played in three games this season, averaging 17.3 points on 39% shooting.
Booker returned to the hardwood on Wednesday after missing the previous five games because of a calf strain. He and Durant both scored 31 points in an easy 133-115 win over the Wolves at home. Booker shot 12 of 22 from the field, while Durant made 11 of 15 shots. Booker has the longest active streak of 30+ points and 5+ assists by a player to begin a season in Suns history. Durant has played in all 11 of the Suns’ games this season, averaging 30.1 points, 7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.
Friday’s game will be the second time the two teams meet. The Suns cruised to a 126-104 win against the Jazz on Oct. 28. Durant had 26 points and Eric Gordon had 21. Booker and Beal didn’t play in that game.
The Suns lost their first In-Season Tournament game to the Los Angeles Lakers 122-119 on Nov. 10. The Suns had a seven-point lead heading into the final quarter but then were outscored by 10. Most of Phoenix’s losses have come because the Suns couldn’t hold onto a fourth-quarter lead.
As for the Jazz, they are riding a two-game winning streak heading into Friday. Utah won its second straight tournament game on Tuesday night, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 115-99. Jordan Clarkson scored 30 points to lead the way for the Jazz. Lauri Markkanen added 21 points and nine rebounds.
In Group A of the In-Seasons Tournament, both the Jazz and the Lakers are 2-0, while the Suns are 0-1 and the Memphis Grizzlies are 0-3. The Blazers are 1-1. If the Suns lose, they’ll likely not make it to the knockout round, which is only for the six group winners. Two “wild card” teams from each conference advance with the best record in the group stage that didn’t win its group.
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