SALT LAKE CITY — Perhaps it wasn’t surprising that the Utah Jazz came out with a lackluster performance, losing 100-84 to the San Antonio Spurs at EnergySolutions Arena Saturday night, a night after knocking off Denver on the road. After all, it’s tough playing these back-to-back games in the NBA, isn’t it?
Oh wait, the Spurs also played the night before, coming from behind for a 117-110 victory over Minnesota. And the Spurs are a much older team than the Jazz and had to travel farther than the Jazz did.
The Spurs are also a lot better team as they showed in jumping to a big first-half lead and cruising to their 19th win in 24 games this year.
Meanwhile the Jazz dropped to 6-20, losing some of the momentum from their back-to-back road victories this week as they head into a nine-day, five-game Eastern road trip this week.
Of course it was the two old guys, 37-year-old Tim Duncan and 31-year Tony Parker, who did most of the damage against the Jazz youngsters, finishing with 22 and 15 points, respectively.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich noted that his old guys played as well as they did, calling his team “a bit long in the tooth.’’
“I’m proud of the way of the guys for playing as well as they did for four (games) in five nights,’’ said Popovich. “I thought their energy and professionalism was great.’’
On the other side, Utah coach Tyrone Corbin acknowledged his team didn’t play nearly as well as the night before.
“We didn’t play with the same pep we have had the last few games,’’ he said. “I thought the effort was there. We just didn’t have the same spark about us that we’ve been having.’’
Corbin also credited San Antonio, saying, “They are the team we thought they were. They are a veteran club and know what to do, when to do it and how to do it.’’
Still it was surprising that the Jazz were never really in the game against the Spurs, who had to come from behind to edge the Jazz a month ago when the Jazz weren’t at full strength.
One of the big keys to Saturday’s win, besides Duncan and Parker, for the Spurs was the play of their bench, which outscored Utah’s 45-22.
The Spurs got 11 points apiece from Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills and nine from Aron Baynes (where do they get these guys?). On the other hand, the Jazz bench struggled with Alec Burks going 4 for 16 from the field, Jeremy Evans 2 for 7 and Enes Kanter 1 for 6.
“Those guys really did a good job for us,’’ said Popovich. “Aron Baynes off the bench was great, Patty Mills was great, Manu (Ginobili), Marco Belinelli. We wouldn't have been able to keep up with these young guys if the bench hadn’t done what it did.’’
Trey Burke led the Jazz scoring with 20 points, while Gordon Hayward had 18 and Marvin Williams 10.
A night after shooting 11 for 18 from the field, Hayward couldn’t find the bucket early against the Spurs, missing his first five shots as the Jazz fell behind by 19 points in the second quarter. Hayward didn’t hit a shot until the 3:15 mark of the second quarter before eventually surpassing his season average of 17.2 ppg.
“The lack of focus for two or three minutes is what got us tonight,’’ said Hayward. “Especially with a team like San Antonio, they make you pay. We didn’t have these lapses in the other two games. But credit them, they’re solid. They’ve been doing it forever too.’’
The Jazz actually, got off to a pretty good start, taking a quick 6-0 lead as the Spurs missed their first seven shots. The lead could have been much worse, except that the Jazz kept missing their own shots and before long, the Spurs had taken the lead at 8-6, a lead they kept increasing the rest of the night.
By halftime the lead was 55-40 as the Jazz couldn’t find the hoop, shooting just 40 percent in the first half.
The Jazz made a brief run in the third quarter, cutting the lead to nine after a Jefferson 3-pointer midway through the quarter at 61-52. However, a 10-3 run with Duncan hitting six straight points put the Spurs back on top by 16 and the lead reached 19 before the Jazz trailed 80-66 at the end of the quarter.
The Jazz's five-game road pre-Christmas trip starts with Miami Monday night and ends with Memphis on Dec. 23.
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