Given that they had lost 10 of 13 games, one might not have expected the Jazz to ultimately give San Antonio — one of the best teams in the league — all it could handle Friday. But that happened in a performance much more inspired than, say, that recent home loss to New York. In the end, the Jazz fell to the Spurs, 104-97, in overtime.
GUARDS: Wow, Mo Williams (23 points on 9-of-17 shooting, eight assists) actually played rather well. (His three turnovers are somewhat excusable, since they came in 36 minutes against one of the NBA's better defenses). But Tony Parker (22 points on 8-of-13 shooting) also excelled, scoring six points and making both of his field goal attempts in overtime.
Randy Foye (eight points, four assists) made two 3-pointers for the third game in the last five, though his 8-of-21 display from distance over that stretch has been no better than his 40 percent accuracy for the season — in a time, no less, when his team has needed reliable outside shooting. San Antonio guard Danny Green's 15-point night (on 6-of-9 shooting) was also better than his 10.6 average for the season, however. GRADE: C.
FORWARDS: Credit is due to Marvin Williams — especially from the author of this piece, for criticizing him harshly often this season — for making the second shot of his entire career with the game on the line. He was 1 of 9 in such situations, with his last make coming in 2009, according to David Locke of 1320 KFAN. He truly did have one of his better games in a Jazz uniform Friday night, tallying nine points and nine assists and proving that he can still give flashes of what made him the second overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft.
After much criticism of Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin for not playing Paul Millsap (11 points, six rebounds) in the fourth quarter of a loss at Houston Wednesday night, the Utah veteran did play through the same period Friday. It could be said that he did a nice job on Tim Duncan (4-of-13 shooting), except that the star dished five assists, grabbed 16 rebounds and — perhaps worst of all for Utah — shot 13 free throws, making 11. And it didn't help that Gordon Hayward (five points on just 2-of-10 shooting, three turnovers) was awful after scoring 13-plus points in nine of the previous 10 games. Even worse: his opponent, Kawhi Leonard, the former San Diego State star, scored 21 points on merely 14 field goal attempts. GRADE: D+.
CENTERS: Offensively, Al Jefferson (18 points on 9-of-23 shooting) was average at best — but the real concern here is that he didn't get to the charity stripe once in 42 minutes. He deserves a C+ grade since he helped limit San Antonio center Tiago Splitter to just five points on 2-of-9 shooting. Enes Kanter lowers the evaluation, however, after shooting 0 of 4 in 11 minutes. After Kanter played just five minutes in Houston, Corbin was criticized for limiting the youngster's time. With Kanter and Big Al playing together for a few minutes Friday, one must wonder why Corbin still seems unsure about the use of his centers at this point in the season. GRADE: C.1 comment on this story
BENCH: Like they have for most of the season, the Jazz reserves outscored their opponent's bench (32-22 Friday). Derrick Favors (six points, eight rebounds, four blocks, 19 minutes) and Alec Burks (14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, 21-plus minutes) were quite good in relatively limited time. GRADE: B+.
OVERALL: It was refreshing to see Utah play effectively up and down the roster. Keep in mind that the Jazz lost in overtime on the road to one of the best teams in the league after slumping mightily in recent weeks. The solid play of both Williamses is actually what the Jazz have needed all season, though Corbin has needed to be just as sure in his rotation since at least the All-Star break.
If Utah fares that well in its final 13 games, it can make the playoffs. GRADE: B+.
Rhett Wilkinson studies cool stuff at Utah State University. The co-founder of Aggie BluePrint (USU's first student magazine) and a two-time Deseret News intern, he now interns for Deseret Book's LDS Living. email@example.com or @wilklogan