Utah fought but couldn't get the job done ultimately against the Spurs, who torched the Jazz in the first half Saturday. Here is how Utah graded:
GUARDS: Performances like Mo Williams produced in San Antonio can assure Kevin O'Connor that he absolutely made the right choice in bringing Williams back to Utah and shipping Devin Harris away. Good grief: the nine-year veteran's 29-point, nine-assist effort made it competitive. Gordon Hayward (15 points, three steals) concluded a solid personal weekend offensively but didn't do much to limit Danny Green. The three-year player's 21 points (on 8-of-9 shooting) were 10 above just last season's average and a key difference in the outcome. GRADE: B+.
FORWARDS: Despite being at least a few inches shorter, Paul Millsap (17 points, 10 rebounds) matched the older Tim Duncan (19 points, 11 rebounds) on the floor. His four turnovers hurt, but perhaps his three steals made up for it. Like Green, role player Kawhi Leonard (13 points on 5-of-5 shooting, five rebounds) was far too effective to allow for the Jazz to sneak away with victory. With players like Marvin Williams, too, Utah is equpped to defend athletic small forwards like the San Diego State product. GRADE: B
CENTERS: Al Jefferson's 16-point, eight-rebound performance was probably his best in the first three games that count — especially when San Anotnio's Boris Diaw wasn't much of an offensive threat Saturday night. Unfortunately, Enes Kanter (four fouls in 11 minutes) was a non-factor, however. GRADE: C
BENCH: This group hardly helped the Jazz as it was outscored 31-17 while shooting 7-of-16 and committing six turnovers. Randy Foye's insertion into the final few minutes of the contest in place of Marvin Williams didn't help at all. In fact, the Spurs' lead increased into the final score. Derrick Favors needs to be a heavier presence and grab more than two rebounds when playing half the game. Gary Neal (11 points, 3-of-4 shooting) joined Green and Leonard as a silent killer. GRADE: D+
OVERALL: The mantra that an NBA team needs to play a full 48 minutes to expect to win couldn't be more applicable to this contest. At least the third-quarter rally happened. Considering Mo Williams' performance against Dallas (21 points, six assists), followed by tonight, that transaction is looking brilliant. Allowing 110 points makes it difficult to give a good grade, however.
It's clear the Jazz remain a struggling road team, so they may yet face some bumps and bruisies in the next eight games, when six are away from EnergySolutions Arena. GRADE: C+
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine.Previously a Deseret News intern, he'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @wilklogan
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