SAN ANTONIO — A fan sitting behind press row at the AT&T Center shared a loud mouthful of free advice with the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
"Put in Hornacek!"
That option, of course, hasn't been available for years. Now an assistant coach, Jeff Hornacek has different game-time responsibilities these days anyway.
But even without good knees and with his suit and dressy loafers on, the former Jazz sharpshooter's touch would've come in handy in this 104-89 blowout loss to San Antonio.
Of course, it would've been even more helpful for the Jazz if "Take out Ginobili!" had been shouted out and then adhered to by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
Manu Ginobili hit a sizzling 9-for-10 from the field, sank 5 of 6 3-pointers and finished with 23 points.
"He is who he is in this league," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "He's an All-Star. He can score. You want to make him work hard for everything."
The Argentine Assassin single-handedly turned this into a rout in the second quarter when he scored eight straight against a Jazz bench that got lost on rotations, allowing for back-to-back wide-open treys for Ginobili.
The Manu moment continued as he dropped 14 points and the Jazz dropped their heads in the period, giving the Spurs a double-digit lead they never came close to relinquishing.
"We lost a little bit of our zest. I thought our energy level was pretty good up until that point," Corbin said. "They made a run and we just didn't respond to it."
As a result, the Jazz, still trying to find who they are between their youth and veterans, were clobbered on someone else's court for the third time in five nights.
Any momentum picked up in Friday's exciting 102-99 home win over Philadelphia fell out of the charter somewhere between the Wasatch Front and the Alamo. It's looking like inconsistency could be the major theme of the season.
"It's going to be an up and down for a while," Corbin said, "until we get more familiar with each other."
At least the 3-1 Spurs' fans didn't get free tacos like the Lakers' crowd did when L.A. held Utah to 71 points and like Nuggets' supporters did when Denver scored 117 in those one-sided contests.
"It's only our fourth game. We do not need to panic," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "We have all the pieces we need. We have a good bench, and we have a lot of new guys, so on offense they are not quite clicking yet."
Against Utah's defense, the Spurs sure clicked.
Besides Ginobili happening, DeJuan Blair added 17 points with 10 rebounds, while Tony Parker (14 points, eight assists) and Tim Duncan (12 points, nine rebounds) reminded the young Jazz that the old guard still rules in these parts.
On the other (cold) hand, there was Utah.
Reminiscent of their woeful opening-day shooting struggle in L.A., the Jazz displayed some odious offense while falling to 1-3.
Utah missed 56 of 89 shots, finishing with a 37.1 shooting percentage.
Other than a big night from Jefferson, a late addition to the starting lineup, this was a rough night from the field for Utah.
Big Al shot 10-for-19 for a team-high 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds a night after missing a game due to an inflamed right ankle. His medicine kicked in Saturday, allowing him to run and play again.
The rest of the team combined to shoot 23-for-70 (32.8 percent), including an ice cold 2-for-16 from 3-point range. That, compared with the Spurs' 10-for-16 outing from beyond the arc.
The Spurs were 8-for-10 from the 3-point line in the first half, when they took a 54-39 lead.
"The difference was the second quarter," Jefferson said. "San Antonio is a great team. They hit seven of eight threes in that second quarter. With a great team like that, you can't put your head down and have to keep fighting.."
The Jazz, Jefferson continued, have to trust their defense and sink makeable shots.
"It wasn't a great effort tonight," Corbin said, echoing something he's said multiple times in the first week of the 2011-12 season.
"We just want to make sure the guys understand that it's a long season," he added. "The guys need to stay together and continue to work."
Aside from Jefferson, the Jazz only got 20 combined points from their other four starters. But Utah did get its most productive night out of newcomer Josh Howard, who led the bench scoring with 18 points on 6-for-16 shooting.
"I took a step forward," Howard said.
Unfortunately, the team took its now predictable step or 10 backwards against a tough road opponent.31 comments on this story
NOTES: This was Popovich's 800th win as an NBA coach. He's the 14th coach to hit that milestone and second behind Jerry Sloan (1,147) for most wins with one franchise. ... The Spurs have beaten the Jazz four straight after Utah swept them in 2009. ... Corbin was drafted by the Spurs (1985, 35th overall) and played briefly in San Antonio during his 16-year NBA career. ... The Jazz have Sunday off before hosting back-to-back games at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday (New Orleans) and Tuesday (Milwaukee).