Even after beating them handily Friday night, winning 90-64, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan continues to hold the San Antonio Spurs with virtual reverent regard.
Perhaps it is because Sloan knows Utah has one regular-season game remaining against the defending NBA-champion Spurs the season-finale for both teams, April 16 in San Antonio, where the Jazz have lost 17 straight times in the regular season and 20 in a row, including last year's NBA playoffs.
Or maybe it's because he can't erase the memory of San Antonio's easy 4-1 dismissal of the Jazz in last season's Western Conference finals, and is cognizant of the reality that Utah and San Antonio could meet again in this year's postseason.
"You're never comfortable with a 10- and 11-point lead against their team," said Sloan, whose Northwest Division-leading Jazz had the Spurs down by just nine heading into Friday's fourth quarter. "They have such a tremendous desire to want to win."
Sloan was particularly gratified by the Jazz response in the Friday's first half, when Utah trailed by as many as eight early in the second quarter.
"It seemed after we got down five or six points we started to play a little bit harder on the defensive end," the Jazz coach said. "That gave us a chance to get back in the game."When you're in that situation," Sloan added, "that's when they (the Spurs) have a tendency to just blow you away. They're a very solid team, and they don't make many mistakes."
HE SAID IT: San Antonio point guard Tony Parker, on the Jazz holding the Spurs to a franchise record-tying low 64 points Friday night: "I didn't even know. I didn't even know. I didn't even know. You know, it's gonna happen sometimes, and it was just one of those games."
BY THE NUMBERS: Last time Utah held an opponent to so few points was against Detroit in 2001. Only twice has it allowed fewer: 58 at New York in 1996, and a franchise-record 56 at Miami on Dec. 17, 1997. The fewest the Jazz had allowed this season prior to Friday came last Nov. 23 against the New Orleans Hornets, whom they visit Tuesday night.The Spurs, incidentally, have held the Jazz to fewer than 100 points in 37 straight games.
HOT SEAT: It remains to be seen if ex-Jazz forward Marc Iavaroni will return for a second season as head coach in Memphis, where the Grizzlies have just 20 victories this season."I'll evaluate Marc like I've done everybody in my company. Are they part of the solution or are they not?" Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley said in Saturday's (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. "I'm not going to make a decision based on what he did this year. I'm going to make a decision based what we think is going to happen next year."
MISC.: If he hasn't already, Adrian Dantley whose uniform number was retired last season by the Jazz will soon learn if he's finally made it into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. This year's class will formally be announced Monday. ... Among the other Hall finalists: Johnny "Red" Kerr, Sloan's former coach with the Chicago Bulls. ... Sloan gave the Jazz Saturday off from practice, but they return to work this morning. ... After Friday's win, the Jazz are 4-3 on ESPN this season.
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