San Antonio Spurs give Utah Jazz inhospitable reception in playoff return
"This is the first time in a long time I've kind of had butterflies before a game," Jefferson admitted after the lopsided loss. "It's not that I was afraid or anything — just the first time in the playoffs in seven years and so I can just imagine how those other guys feel who've never been."
Hayward noticed that the TV timeouts were longer and the crowd was into it more.
Other than that, though, the second-year shooting guard said, "I don't think it's extremely different."
Unfortunately for the No. 8 Jazz, their result against the No. 1 Spurs wasn't different than it's been lately — not counting Utah's recent win in which it outlasted a San Antonio squad missing the resting Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. This was the Spurs' third double-digit win over the Jazz since the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season began.
"They're a good team. They've got good players," Hayward said. "I watched them when I was in junior high and high school doing this. They know the ins-and-outs of the game and different ways they can get different players open and find themselves open."
Defensively, San Antonio, which won its 11th straight game, took away Utah's interior game — outscoring the Jazz 58-44 in the paint and holding the visitors to 42.1-percent shooting.
Offensively, Parker sliced, diced and pick-and-rolled his way through Utah's defense, San Antonio's deep reserves paid off and Duncan had his fundamental fun at the Jazz's expense.
Duncan, who just turned 36 years old, even gave Big Al a taste of his own pump-faking medicine en route to a slam while sparking the Spurs' spurt that resulted in an 85-70 lead after three quarters.
"Like I told him before the game, it's just an honor to go against him in the playoffs," Jefferson said of his matchup with four-time champ Duncan. "I'm learning as I go, playing against him. It's a great experience."
Added the 27-year-old Jefferson: "To me, he's not as old as everyone says he is. He still steps up and plays well on the court."
Similar to their season, the Jazz were strong at times and stumbled at times.
Millsap scored 20 points with nine rebounds, Hayward contributed 17 points in his playoff debut and Big Al chipped in with 16 points and nine boards.
But they had too many turnovers (16 vs. the Spurs' 10), defensive lapses and offensive execution issues against a championship-caliber team.
"Most definitely, it was a learning experience for us. Believe it or not, we do walk out with our heads up a little bit," Jefferson said. "Now, let's just go and watch film and learn from our mistake, then get ready for Game 2."
Added Favors, who had eight rebounds and seven points: "I'm just happy to get the first one out of the way, so we can come back better next game."
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