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Utah shocks San Antonio

Okurs' put-back gives Jazz 2nd home win of year vs. Spurs

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 2 2015 3:01 a.m. MDT

San Antonio's Robert Horry attempts to block a shot by the Jazz's Jarron Collins during Wednesday's game.
 (Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News) San Antonio's Robert Horry attempts to block a shot by the Jazz's Jarron Collins during Wednesday's game. (Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News)
The Jazz have no playoff plans, no games to play except the final four that remain in their last week of the NBA's 2004-05 regular season.
In the scheme of things, accordingly, it might seem one more win in a season of so few means little.
Just don't try telling that to Mehmet Okur, who grinned from ear to ear and even high-fived Jazz basketball operations senior vice president Kevin O'Connor on his way off the floor.
Okur's reason for glee Wednesday night, in the Jazz's first game at home after a week on the road: For a second time in as many Delta Center meetings with San Antonio this season, his late-game putback beat the Spurs.
Last time, back in January, he followed a Keith McLeod miss as the clock wound down for a one-point Utah win. This time, Okur deposited Robert Horry's block of a Gordan Giricek reverse layup with 2.4 seconds remaining for the winning basket as the Jazz won 93-91.
Mehmet Okur runs down court after making the eventual game-winning basket against the Spurs. (Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News) Mehmet Okur runs down court after making the eventual game-winning basket against the Spurs. (Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News)
"I was just there," Okur said. "Right time, and right position, you know?"
What the Spurs know is just how painful this loss — both, actually — can be.
Tangled in a battle with Phoenix for the best record in the NBA and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, 58-21 San Antonio could ill afford to lose for a second time this season to a lowly opponent like the Jazz.
Yet they did, despite an 18-game winning streak over Utah before that fateful January night.
"It's tough," San Antonio point guard Tony Parker said, "because we lost two games the same way."
Their incentive to win, however, wasn't quite enough to prompt Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to play two-time NBA MVP Tim Duncan anything beyond 20 minutes in his first game back following an extended layoff due to an ankle sprain.
With Duncan watching from the bench at the end, then, Utah was able to win for just the 25th time in 78 outings this season.
The Jazz, who led by as many as 15 in the first half and by 10 at halftime, found themselves down by one at 88-87 with just more than one minute remaining.
Okur, though, hit a 21-foot jumper to put Utah back up with 1:06 left — two of his game-high 25 points.
Spurs point guard Tony Parker then missed a jumper, Jazz big man Jarron Collins missed two free throws, Parker missed yet another jumper, and the Jazz still led. Their advantage pushed to three when Matt Harpring made two freebies with 14.3 seconds to go, but the Spurs answered six seconds later.
Giricek fouled Manu Ginobili, and the Spurs guard made his first of two free throws. Ginobili missed the second, but when two Jazz players were thrown to the floor like rag dolls in the rush for the rebound — Okur by Nazr Mohhamed, and Harpring by Horry, and — Mohhammed was able to slam in the rebound and tie the game at 91.
The Jazz called a timeout with 7.5 seconds left, setting up Giricek for a drive to the hole.
"We were just hoping we'd get something going to the basket," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.
What they got was Horry's block, which fell to Okur, who used his game-high 16th rebound for an uncontested bank from just beneath the basket.
Parker called it "tough luck."
"We knew we had to take care of Mehmet (Okur) on the rebounds, and we didn't do a good job," he said. "It was a great play.
"We had a great last play (too)," the Spurs point added. "We execute, we had a shot with Manu (Ginobili) — and the look didn't go in."
Ginobili tried a baseline floater on the other end just before the buzzer, but it missed the mark — allowing Okur to celebrate his second straight game-winner against the Spurs.
"This," the Jazz big man from Turkey said, "was a huge game for us."
Well, not necessarily. But don't tell Okur.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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