Utah Jazz: Team wins in San Antonio for first time in 10 years
Jazz finally put end to decade-long dry spell in San Antonio
Darren Abate, Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO — Standing in one of the maze of hallways at the AT&T Center here in San Antonio, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan looked over his glasses and smiled after scratching one off his bucket list.
"Well," the Jazz coach said, "it was nice from my standpoint to get a win in this building before I die."
Sloan has Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and a 6-6 Jazz team that's put together consecutive wins for the first time this season to thank for that.
Williams had a 21-point, 10-assist double-double and Boozer an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double to lift Utah over the Spurs 90-83 on Thursday night, giving the Jazz their first win in San Antonio since Feb. 28, 1999 and ending a streak of 20 straight losses — 23 including playoff games — that spans a decade.
The drought included all 13 games the Jazz have had — 16 including postseason play — in the AT&T Center, which replaced the Alamodome as home of the Spurs in 2002.
"We did all the right things down the stretch," Williams said, "which is something we've struggled with in this building.
"We haven't won here in I don't know how many years," he added, "so this was a great win for all of us."
Even if it does come with an asterisk.
The Jazz — playing themselves without ill starting center Mehmet Okur, and with just nine healthy players for a fourth straight game — beat a 4-6 San Antonio team missing injured stars Tony Parker (ankle sprain) and Manu Ginobili (groin strain).
"I still want to beat them when they're not shorthanded," Williams said.
"You always want to play a team at their best," Boozer added.
But after all of what Utah has been through here over the last 10-plus years, a win of any sort would suffice.
From a 33-point loss in November of 2004 to another 33-pointer in April of 2006 to a humbling Western Conference finals-ending loss in May of 2007 that concluded with Williams blasting teammates for planning early vacations, the Jazz really have had their share of heartbreak here.
And it very nearly happened again Thursday, as Utah led by as many as 12 early and by 10 after Williams hit a 3-pointer with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter — only to see San Antonio, with Williams sitting for most of the stretch, tie the game at 60 with 25.1 seconds left in the third.
But Paul Millsap snapped a 63-63 tie early in the fourth with two of his 20 points off the bench, and the Jazz led the rest of the way.
The Spurs did get Utah's advantage down to one at 84-83 after two Tim Duncan free throws with 1:25 remaining, but the Jazz answered 17 seconds later with a pick-and-roll, give-and-go between Williams and Boozer.
"You've got to get your hands ready with Willie," Boozer said, "because you never know when it's gonna come."
And he did.
Williams got the ball to Boozer, then cut down the lane and got it back before dishing a nifty pass back that ended with a Boozer layup. Boozer was fouled by Spurs fill-in point guard George Hill and hit the free throw that followed, giving Utah a four-point lead that it extended to seven in the final minute with a Ronnie Brewer free throw and an Andrei Kirilenko jumper.
"He (Boozer) passed to me; it was a great pass. And I took the one dribble, and I saw everybody kind of surround me," Williams said.
"So I was just hoping he kept going, and didn't think I was shooting it. And luckily I got it to him.
"It was kind of a blind pass. I couldn't see him, but I knew, hopefully, he was gonna be there. Once he hit the and-1 and made the free throw, we ... started seeing people leave."
With that, a streak of ineptitude was left in the rearview mirror — and the Jazz had their first win in San Antonio since Karl Malone scored 30, Jeff Hornacek added 18, John Stockton dished 10 assists and Greg Ostertag pulled down 11 rebounds in the Alamodome.
"We're proud of ourselves," Boozer said, "for fighting back and holding on."
And because they did, Sloan could finally erase a lengthy inventory of bad memories — if he hadn't already.
After all, the 67-year-old Jazz coach said, "I have a tough enough time remembering today, let alone yesterday."
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