Being pitted against the team with the Western Conference’s best record was not the most welcome of sights for a struggling Utah Jazz team fighting for their postseason lives. The Jazz gave it their all, but the ever-savvy Spurs made big play after big play to earn a hard-fought 104-97 overtime victory.
The game started out like the somewhat broken record recent San Antonio-Utah matchups have played: Spurs dart out to the quick lead and despite a solid effort, the Jazz fall behind by double-digits quickly. Utah dug in deep and was able to overcome an early 12-point deficit to eke out a three-point advantage at halftime.
San Antonio came back and looked like it was going to sneak out with the win in regulation, but Marvin Williams’ corner 3-pointer at the buzzer pushed the outing to overtime. The Spurs then assumed control and like they are prone to do, executing their way to the win.
Starring Starters: Both coaches, Gregg Popovich and Tyrone Corbin, went predominantly with their starting units Friday night. And while both fought hard, the Spurs’ opening five enjoyed the edge and subsequently the final score. All five Utah starters had a plus-minus mark of minus-11 or worse. Conversely, San Antonio’s starters were all positive, with four of them being plus-12 or better.
Tim Duncan continues to defy time while dominating. He had 19 points, 16 rebounds and five assists. His 11-13 free throws exceeded Utah’s overall totals for makes (7) and attempts (12). Tony Parker exhibited no rust in his first game back from injury, netting 22 points and five assists. Young cogs Kawhi Leonard (21 points, eight rebounds), Danny Green (15 points on 6-9 shooting, three triples) and Tiago Splitter (10 rebounds, four blocked shots) were all vital.
Utah’s starting frontcourt of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward did lots of good things on the court, but suffered through a tough shooting night. The trio combined to go 16-46 from the floor.
This and That:
• Derrick Favors was devastating on defense early on, recording all four of his blocked shots in his first-half stint. Besides that, he rotated extremely well and altered numerous other plays and shots. That said, Favors and Enes Kanter combined to play 30 total minutes.
• In lieu of veterans Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley, Corbin went with second-year guard Alec Burks in the backup point guard role.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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