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Jazz Fall To Suns On Controversial Overturned Foul Call

Nov 19, 2023, 10:34 PM

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Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns challenges a three-point shot by Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz fell to the Phoenix Suns 140-137 after a controversial overturned foul call against Kevin Durant.

After Durant was whistled for a three-shot foul against Lauri Markkanen in the final second of double-overtime, the Suns challenged the call and got the initial ruling overruled, ending the game.

Durant had 39 points, while Markkanen had 38 as the Jazz fell to 4-9 to the season.

Did Suns Durant Foul Markkanen? Jazz Thought So

While the officials got a second chance to review the final play, ultimately overturning their original foul call, several members of the Jazz felt the wrong call was made.

Markkanen, who originally thought he was headed to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game, explained his perspective after the loss.

“I think he got ball, but he hit my left arm,” Markkanen said. “That’s what I thought that they called the foul on.”

Officials deliberated for several minutes after the Suns challenge before signaling the end of hte game.

“There was clear and conclusive evidence that Durant made legal contact to the basketball blocking the shot first,” Crew Cheif Zach Zarba said when asked about the play. “That’s why the challenge was ruled successful.”

Jazz forward John Collins thought that not only was there a foul, but that the review should have included a potential flagrant foul after Durant failed to provide Markkanen proper landing space.

“I think that that’s three points and a look for — I forgot what the technical term is — but for not letting Lowry land.”

Officials were asked about both Markkanen’s landing space, and a foul on his offhand, which they ruled didn’t affect the play.

“The clear and conclusive evidence that Durant got to the basketball first was the key here,” Zarba said. “Making everything after it marginal in our opinion.”

As for Durant, he offered a more direct opinion after the Suns win.

“It was ridiculous to even call that,” the Suns star said. “I knew I blocked the shot and I knew I didn’t touch him at all.”

Hardy Wants A Wilder Agbaji

Ochai Agbaji has had a difficult weekend having to guard both Durant and Devin Booker in back-to-back games.

On Friday, the superstar duo combined for 62 points, 24 assists, and 13 rebounds in 65 minutes of action.

On Sunday, they totaled 65 points, 18 assists, and 13 rebounds in 87 minutes.

Agbaji discussed the challenge of defending the two on Thursday before the weekend’s games.

“Obviously, they’re all really good mid-range shooters, but that’s really the shot we want them to take is a tough mid-range contested shot,” the second-year forward said.

“Not any wide-open catch and shoot threes, crowd them on the three-point line, make them actually take it to the basket and just playing them straight up and try not to foul.”

Durant and Booker combined to shoot an efficient 44-85 (51 percent) from the floor including 14-27 (51 percent) from three while earning 27 trips to the free-throw line in the two outings.

Though the results weren’t pretty, Agbaji’s effort against the two stars was admirable.

For Agbaji to take the next step defensively, Jazz coach Will Hardy said he’d like to see the wing add another, harder-to-define quality to his game.

“He is a very smart person, he’s a very smart player, he’s very diligent with how he approaches the game plan,” Hardy noted, “[but] I would like for Ochai to be 10-20 percent wilder.”

In just his second season, there are moments when Agbaji seems more focused on executing the gameplan to perfection, rather than embracing his instincts and athleticism to cause havoc for opposing offenses.

“I think he’s trying to be technically correct on every play and I would like to see him let it rip on the defensive end a little bit more,” Hardy explained. “That will mean that there will be some fouls — that will be unfortunate. But I think as he’s continuing to grow as a player and we’re continuing to grow as a team, him being a disruptive defender is something that we need.”

Utah Crowd Shows Up On Sunday

The NBA mandated that all teams host three Sunday games this season, breaking a longstanding tradition of the Jazz not playing Sunday home games.

Considering the poor weather, the team’s 4-8 record entering the game, the fact that the Jazz were facing the same team many fans had seen in Salt Lake City just two nights earlier, and the game going to double overtime, the crowd turnout was very strong, as was the engagement.

“The crowd was amazing tonight,” Hardy said. “At the end of the game, it really felt like a playoff game.”

The lack of Sunday home games began with former Jazz owner Larry H. Miller who preferred to avoid Sunday games at the Delta Center, a tradition that has carried on over the last two decades.

His preference resulted in more difficult travel times, and some additional back-to-backs as the NBA tried to cater to the Sunday tradition.

Even with the advantage of a less stringent schedule, Jazz fans’ enthusiasm on a less-than-ideal Sunday night was a good sign and one that should be embraced by new ownership.

The Jazz have two more Sunday home games this season, beginning on February 4 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, and February 25 vs. the San Antonio Spurs.

Nightly Awards: Jazz vs. Suns

The “I Bet They Were Frustrated On The Bench” Award: 

Goes to Collin Sexton and Talen Horton-Tucker who closed the game on the sidelines despite stellar play throughout regulation and in the first overtime.

Horton-Tucker was arguably the Jazz’s best player in the first half scoring 18 of his 25 total points while adding four rebounds and three assists.

Sexton got off to a rough start but finished the night with 18 points and five rebounds, and hit the game-tying layup as time expired in the first overtime.

Instead of keeping their bench unit on the floor, the Jazz closed the second overtime with starters Keyonte George and Jordan Clarkson, both of whom struggled against Phoenix.

George and Clarkson combined for 29 points, 16 assists, and 12 rebounds while shooting just 10-35 from the floor and 1-11 from three.

Giving George that experience has more long-term value for hte Jazz, but that doesn’t make it an easier pill to swallow for Horton-Tucker or Sexton.

Utah Jazz Next Broadcast

The Jazz will face the Lakers on Tuesday at 8 pm MST in Los Angeles. The game will be televised on TNT and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Jazz Fall To Suns On Controversial Overturned Foul Call