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Utah Jazz: Team wins in San Antonio for first time in 10 years

Jazz finally put end to decade-long dry spell in San Antonio

Published: Friday, Nov. 20 2009 2:45 a.m. MST

San Antonio Spurs player DeJuan Blair, left, chases down a loose ball ahead of Utah Jazz player Paul Millsap during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio on Thursday. The Jazz had their first win in 10 years against the Spurs in San Antonio with a score of 90-83. (Darren Abate, Associated Press) San Antonio Spurs player DeJuan Blair, left, chases down a loose ball ahead of Utah Jazz player Paul Millsap during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio on Thursday. The Jazz had their first win in 10 years against the Spurs in San Antonio with a score of 90-83. (Darren Abate, Associated Press)

SAN ANTONIO — Standing in one of the maze of hallways at the AT&T Center here in San Antonio, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan looked over his glasses and smiled after scratching one off his bucket list.

"Well," the Jazz coach said, "it was nice from my standpoint to get a win in this building before I die."

Sloan has Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and a 6-6 Jazz team that's put together consecutive wins for the first time this season to thank for that.

Williams had a 21-point, 10-assist double-double and Boozer an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double to lift Utah over the Spurs 90-83 on Thursday night, giving the Jazz their first win in San Antonio since Feb. 28, 1999 and ending a streak of 20 straight losses — 23 including playoff games — that spans a decade.

The drought included all 13 games the Jazz have had — 16 including postseason play — in the AT&T Center, which replaced the Alamodome as home of the Spurs in 2002.

San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, left, argues a call with referee Joe Crawford during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday in San Antonio. The Jazz had their first win in 10 years against the Spurs in San Antonio with a score of 90-83. (Darren Abate, Associated Press) San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, left, argues a call with referee Joe Crawford during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday in San Antonio. The Jazz had their first win in 10 years against the Spurs in San Antonio with a score of 90-83. (Darren Abate, Associated Press)

"We did all the right things down the stretch," Williams said, "which is something we've struggled with in this building.

"We haven't won here in I don't know how many years," he added, "so this was a great win for all of us."

Even if it does come with an asterisk.

The Jazz — playing themselves without ill starting center Mehmet Okur, and with just nine healthy players for a fourth straight game — beat a 4-6 San Antonio team missing injured stars Tony Parker (ankle sprain) and Manu Ginobili (groin strain).

"I still want to beat them when they're not shorthanded," Williams said.

"You always want to play a team at their best," Boozer added.

But after all of what Utah has been through here over the last 10-plus years, a win of any sort would suffice.

San Antonio Spurs player George Hill, center, looks to pass around Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer to teammate Tim Duncan, left, as the Jazz's Deron Williams, right, and Paul Millsap try to strip the ball during the second half. (Darren Abate, Associated Press) San Antonio Spurs player George Hill, center, looks to pass around Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer to teammate Tim Duncan, left, as the Jazz's Deron Williams, right, and Paul Millsap try to strip the ball during the second half. (Darren Abate, Associated Press)

From a 33-point loss in November of 2004 to another 33-pointer in April of 2006 to a humbling Western Conference finals-ending loss in May of 2007 that concluded with Williams blasting teammates for planning early vacations, the Jazz really have had their share of heartbreak here.

And it very nearly happened again Thursday, as Utah led by as many as 12 early and by 10 after Williams hit a 3-pointer with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter — only to see San Antonio, with Williams sitting for most of the stretch, tie the game at 60 with 25.1 seconds left in the third.

But Paul Millsap snapped a 63-63 tie early in the fourth with two of his 20 points off the bench, and the Jazz led the rest of the way.

The Spurs did get Utah's advantage down to one at 84-83 after two Tim Duncan free throws with 1:25 remaining, but the Jazz answered 17 seconds later with a pick-and-roll, give-and-go between Williams and Boozer.

Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan questions a call during the first half. (Darren Abate, Associated Press) Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan questions a call during the first half. (Darren Abate, Associated Press)

"You've got to get your hands ready with Willie," Boozer said, "because you never know when it's gonna come."

And he did.

Williams got the ball to Boozer, then cut down the lane and got it back before dishing a nifty pass back that ended with a Boozer layup. Boozer was fouled by Spurs fill-in point guard George Hill and hit the free throw that followed, giving Utah a four-point lead that it extended to seven in the final minute with a Ronnie Brewer free throw and an Andrei Kirilenko jumper.

"He (Boozer) passed to me; it was a great pass. And I took the one dribble, and I saw everybody kind of surround me," Williams said.

"So I was just hoping he kept going, and didn't think I was shooting it. And luckily I got it to him.

The San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan, left, is slapped as he blocks a pass by Utah Jazz' Deron Williams during the first half. (Darren Abate, Associated Press) The San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan, left, is slapped as he blocks a pass by Utah Jazz' Deron Williams during the first half. (Darren Abate, Associated Press)

"It was kind of a blind pass. I couldn't see him, but I knew, hopefully, he was gonna be there. Once he hit the and-1 and made the free throw, we ... started seeing people leave."

With that, a streak of ineptitude was left in the rearview mirror — and the Jazz had their first win in San Antonio since Karl Malone scored 30, Jeff Hornacek added 18, John Stockton dished 10 assists and Greg Ostertag pulled down 11 rebounds in the Alamodome.

"We're proud of ourselves," Boozer said, "for fighting back and holding on."

And because they did, Sloan could finally erase a lengthy inventory of bad memories — if he hadn't already.

After all, the 67-year-old Jazz coach said, "I have a tough enough time remembering today, let alone yesterday."

Utah Jazz player Carlos Boozer, center, scores between San Antonio Spurs defenders Tim Duncan, left, and Richard Jefferson during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio on Thursday. The Jazz had their first win in 10 years against the Spurs in San Antonio with a score of 90-83. (Darren Abate, Associated Press) Utah Jazz player Carlos Boozer, center, scores between San Antonio Spurs defenders Tim Duncan, left, and Richard Jefferson during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio on Thursday. The Jazz had their first win in 10 years against the Spurs in San Antonio with a score of 90-83. (Darren Abate, Associated Press)

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