I actually think they executed their offense better than we executed ours. It is a tribute to their coaching staff and those players that they come out every night like this and play their butts off. —Greg Popovich
SAN ANTONIO — If you saw the Utah-San Antonio game three weeks ago, you could have just pulled out that rerun off your DVR rather than spend your time watching another rout for the Spurs over the Jazz Wednesday night.
While this one wasn’t as bad as the 37-point crushing last month, it was another San Antonio thrashing as the Spurs cruised to a 123-98 victory over the Jazz at AT&T Center.
However, despite suffering the second-biggest loss of the season, there was a different feeling in the Jazz locker room following the latest loss in the Alamo City. Instead of lying down and letting the Spurs walk all over them, the Jazz played with energy all night and fought right until the final horn.
“I feel good about the guys that we had in there,” said coach Quin Snyder of his 10-man team that was missing Derrick Favors for the seventh straight game and fell to 15-19 with the loss.
“In the last six minutes of the game, we continued to play hard and we got something out of it. That’s why we’ve played so well the last three games, that’s why we beat Portland, that’s why we beat Memphis in overtime — because these guys have that attitude. But tonight there was just too much for us to overcome and I don’t think there’s any shame in that.”
What the Jazz couldn’t overcome was a sizzling shooting performance by the Spurs, who shot 60.5 percent from the field, their second-best shooting percentage of the year, while tying their season high in points. The Spurs improved to 31-6 on the season and 21-0 at home.
The Jazz actually played well on offense, prompting Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to say afterward, “I actually think they executed their offense better than we executed ours. It is a tribute to their coaching staff and those players that they come out every night like this and play their butts off.”
Utah shot 47 percent from the field and had 21 assists and received an excellent game from Trey Burke, who scored 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting as well as Gordon Hayward, who finished with 18 points, and Jeff Withey, who had 10 points and seven rebounds.
However, the Spurs were hot all night, shooting 68.4 percent from the field in the first quarter when they raced to a 32-22 lead and they stayed above 60 percent for the rest of the night.
“I would have liked to have seen us be better defensively and make it a little harder but I think when you look back at it there’s a lot of things you may want that maybe aren’t as realistic with the group we just played with,” said Snyder. “And that’s not giving us an out by any means. They played very well — they made shots and made it a tough night.”
Burke said the Jazz were “a little too lax on defense in the first half” when they fell behind 68-51. “We needed to be a little more aggressive on the defensive end to try and take some things away,’’ he said.
The Spurs just kept coming from all sides as 12 of their 13 players scored with eight finishing in double figures.
Wily veteran Tim Duncan led the way with 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting, while Kawhi Leonard scored 15 and Manu Ginobili and Davis West, starting in place of the resting LaMarcus Aldridge, each scored 14.
Jonathon Simmons, Kyle Anderson and Boban Marjanovic each scored 13 and Ray McCallum scored 10 off the bench for the Spurs, who got 70 points in all from their reserves.
At least, the Jazz don’t have to wait long to redeem themselves as they take on Houston Thursday night at the Toyota Center, just three days after dropping a tough 93-91 game Monday night in Salt Lake.
“The beauty of this league is that we’ve got one tomorrow,” said Burke. “We head up to Houston and have to try to get a win there. We just have to learn from this and go in tomorrow with the same mindset and focus and energy and try to pull out a win.”
After Thursday’s game, the Jazz return home to face Miami Saturday night before returning to the road for games at the Lakers Sunday and Portland Wednesday.