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Phoenix • It wasn't a perfect game from the Utah Jazz. Wednesday night's preseason action won't make its way on to any instructional videos.
But it was a better performance than Monday night's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. It was crisp offensively and it was good in spots on the defensive end.
In all, the 104-99 victory over the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena represented the progress. that Jazz head coach Quin Snyder was targeting.
"We came out tonight with a little more energy, a little more aggression and played well, especially early," Snyder said. "They got very physical with us, and we didn't respond well, at least initially. But I was happy overall."
There were several positives. Dante Exum started for the injured Rodney Hood, played 13 minutes and was significantly better than he was against Portland. He scored five points, handed out four assists and grabbed a rebound in 13 minutes, before leaving the game at halftime with a hyper-extended knee.
But the stats for Exum do not tell the entire story. The point guard was aggressive off the dribble and decisive in getting to the basket, where he finished at the rim, and dropped off several nice assists to teammates.
"It was good that he was attacking," Snyder said of Exum. "It would've been nice if he could've played more, but we held him out for precautionary reasons, he's fine. It was good to see that he was finding a little more comfort."
Center Rudy Gobert was dominant in 28 minutes, scoring a game-high 21 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking three shots. He was active, cutting to the basket, he finished plays with authority, and went 13 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Gordon Hayward continued to make the game look easy, scoring 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting in 22 minutes. He picked his spots, and scored or generated a good shot almost at will.
"I thought he was going to take a three, he was making so many of his free-throws," Snyder said. "It was good to see him making his shots at the line, because he's been putting a lot of practice into it."
There are still warts, however. Joe Johnson hasn't found a rhythm within the offense, as he scored two points on 1 of 4 shooting. The same can be said about Boris Diaw as well.
And while the Jazz shot almost 50 percent from the field, they still aren't shooting well from 3-point range and are missing too many foul shots.
For the most part, Utah controlled a young Phoenix team, and were able to keep the Suns from getting close for most of the night.
Phoenix played well in spurts, and placed five players in double-figures. For most of the night, however, the Jazz were obviously the better team.
The Jazz received better performances from Trey Lyles, who scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds on 6-10 shooting from the field; Joe Ingles, who came off the bench to score 11 points and grab five rebounds; Shelvin Mack, who continued his strong preseason play with 10 points, and George Hill, who contributed 11 points. The bench scored 49 points, and the Jazz defensively held Phoenix to 6-22 from 3-point range, and 38 percent from the field.
Brandon Knight led the Suns with 17 points, while TJ Warren scored 15 points and Devin Booker scored 13.
R Utah moves to 1-1 in the preseason with a 104-99 victory against the Phoenix Suns.
• The Jazz receive a second consecutive double-double from Rudy Gobert with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
• Trey Lyles comes off the bench to score 16 points.