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Durant scores 26 points as Suns easily handle Jazz

Kevin Durant drives against John Collins Phoenix Suns Utah Jazz Kevin Durant drives against John Collins - The Canadian Press

PHOENIX (AP) — Grayson Allen cut into the lane before rising up and flushing an unexpected one-handed jam in traffic, pushing the Phoenix lead to 30 points midway through the third quarter.

Two-thirds of the Suns' star trio was out with injuries on Saturday night, but the supporting cast showed it can put up some numbers, too.

Kevin Durant scored 26 points, Eric Gordon added 21 and the Suns easily handled the Utah Jazz 126-104.

“Tonight was one of those nights that we moved in the right direction,” Durant said.

The Suns dominated the majority of the game, never trailing after the first few minutes. They opened a 16-point lead by halftime and led by 30 midway through the third quarter after Allen brought the crowd to its feet with his jam.

Phoenix's star trio was a solo act on Saturday, and Durant provided a methodical 8-of-11 shooting performance. The 13-time All-Star hit all nine of his free throws and dished seven assists. Devin Booker (ankle) missed his second straight game and Bradley Beal (back) has missed all three games this season.

Durant played just 29 minutes, watching from the bench as the Suns enjoyed their comfortable lead.

First-year Suns coach Frank Vogel said he's pleased that the team is also executing on the defensive end of the floor. Utah shot just 44% from the field.

“They're executing our scheme at a pretty high level, and they're doing it with a great deal of effort, hustle and scrappiness, which is what we're asking them to do," Vogel said. “We know we have elite talent on this basketball team, and if the effort piece is greater than our opponent, we're going to be really tough to beat."

Allen added 17 points, while Jusuf Nurkic had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Phoenix poured in 40 points in the third quarter to put away the game.

“Grayson got it going in the third, and we were able to move off of one another,” Durant said. “That's what basketball is all about. It's an exciting win and hopefully we can build on this.”

The Jazz had 19 turnovers in a sloppy performance. Lauri Markkanen had 19 points, making five 3-pointers. Collin Sexton scored 14 points over the bench while rookie Keyonte George, the 16th overall pick out of Baylor, added 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

“I think there were moments when our bodies were a little slow,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “We weren’t able to make up for that because we did not do a good enough job with our brains and our mouth communicating.”

Phoenix took a 66-50 lead at halftime after shooting 54% from the field. Gordon scored 21 points in the first half on 9-of-12 shooting, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range. Durant added 14 points and five assists.


Jazz: Travel to face Denver on Monday.

Suns: Host San Antonio on Tuesday.