Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
SAN ANTONIO — It wasn't nerves, youth or the happy crowd at AT&T Center that took the Jazz out of the game, Sunday.
It was a power surge.
Meaning, of course, a barrage of third-quarter shooting by the San Antonio Spurs in their Game 1.
The Spurs outscored Utah 19-9 in the last 5 1/2 minutes of the quarter, which was more than enough to subdue the Jazz, 106-91, in Game 1 of the NBA playoffs on Sunday.
San Antonio subbed in Stephen Jackson, Gary Neal and Matt Bonner midway through the third quarter and each landed a 3-point shot to stretch the lead from five to 15.
"It gets really difficult when it gets to that point," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said.
Though the Jazz cut the lead down to eight in the fourth quarter, by that time the ship had sailed.
"We made some adjustments … and after that we kept the lead in the fourth quarter," said Spurs guard Tony Parker.
Realistically, the Jazz didn't have much luck at stopping the Spurs at either the top or bottom of the key. San Antonio got 14 more points in the paint than Utah, largely due to Parker's relentless driving to the rim. He led all scorers with 28.
At the same time, the Spurs caused outside worries for the Jazz, too. San Antonio made a so-so six 3-point shots, but three came in that crucial third-quarter run.
"It's tough. With a championship-caliber team, you've got to figure out ways to stop them," said Jazz forward Josh Howard.
The Spurs' push began at the 5:25 mark of the quarter when Duncan hit a driving dunk, boosting the lead to seven. Although a Jazz free throw cut the margin to six, that was followed by another Duncan basket.
With the lead at nine, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich inserted Bonner for Boris Diaw, Jackson for Kawhi Leonard and soon after, Neal for Parker.
Two minutes later it started to rain. Neal nailed a trey, boosting the lead to 11. Inside the final minute, Jackson hit another and Bonner a third.
By then the score was 85-70 and the Jazz weren't coming back.
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