The pattern for Utah Jazz/San Antonio Spurs match-ups has seemingly been the same the past several seasons: San Antonio comes out on fire, Jazz get down big, put up a fight, cut the game to a few points, only to see the Spurs escape with what frustratingly appears to be an easy double-digit victory. Such was the case again Sunday, as San Antonio defeated Utah 114-104.
Sporting the Western Conference’s best record and a 10-game winning streak, the Spurs jumped on the Jazz early on, nabbing a 57-40 halftime lead. Then, in one of their most impressive quarters of the season, the never-say-die Jazz outhustled and outscored their opponents in the third quarter 36-28.
Another big part of the pattern: The tremendous trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili did their thing. Parker, having perhaps the best season of his career, set the tone and pace of the game, fueling the Spurs with 28 points and three assists. He repeatedly broke down the Utah defense, slicing and dicing his way to lay-ups and free throw attempts.
The venerable Duncan continues to play high quality basketball. Offensively, he was quiet with 13 points. But his 16 rebounds, three blocked shots, and stellar defense looked as sharp as ever. He did get frustrated a few times, earning a technical in the fourth quarter.
Ginobili quietly had 23 points of his own. He did not shoot the ball particularly well (only one of six from three-point territory), but made the plays that needed to be made.
Free throw disparity: From the get-go, San Antonio was aggressive, taking the ball to the hole. Parker and Ginobili did most of their damage from the free throw line, combining to go 24 for 25. All in all, the Spurs finished with a 43-26 advantage in freebie attempts.
The Jazz compounded the discrepancy in attempts by hitting just 61.5 percent compared to San Antonio’s 88.4 percent.
Injuries/illnesses: Utah continues to battle some illnesses and injuries. Midway through the first half starting small forward C.J. Miles and back-up point guard Earl Watson both exited with injuries. Paul Millsap also may be suffering the aftereffects of his recent flu bout, scoring a season-low two points, with just three rebounds.
DeMarre Carroll made the most of his extra opportunities, scoring a career high 16 points in just 18 minutes. He honed in from long range, scoring most of his points on jumpers. Along with three treys, he also chipped in four rebounds, two assists, and many nice hustle plays.
- Again, Utah distributed the ball well with 24 assists, compared to just 11 turnovers.
- Derrick Favors had a double-double off the pine, with 14 points and 12 boards.
- San Antonio swingman Danny Green had a very efficient night, scoring 14 points while attempting just five field goals.
- The Spurs front office slyly obtained three players last month to bolster their line-up: Boris Diaw, Stephen Jackson and Patty Mills.
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.