SAN ANTONIO — The Jazz coaches and players weren’t talking about moral victories after Friday night’s overtime loss to San Antonio, but they didn’t discount the much-improved effort they displayed in leading San Antonio most of the way before losing a tough game, 104-97.
The Jazz have been inconsistent recently, playing poorly in the first half at Houston Wednesday before coming on strong at the end and having an overall poor game against New York earlier in the week. But they came out with energy in the first quarter Friday and nearly knocked off the top team in the Western Conference.
“We almost beat one of the best teams on their home court,’’ said Gordon Hayward. “It shows we can do it. We just have to bring it each game.’’
“It’s all about going out there and doing it,’’ said Al Jefferson. “We all know what it takes to win in this league. We just have to go out there with that energy for 48 minutes. ... That’s what we did tonight, but unfortunately we fell short.’’
Mo Williams did mention moral victories, saying “You can talk about moral victories or whatever, but at the end of the day, it still hurts. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win. We wanted to win. We needed the win. But unfortunately we didn’t.’’
FREE AGENCY: Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin acknowledged that the team’s large number of free agents — eight, with a ninth having an option year — might be having an effect on the team’s play of late.
“It may have something to do with it,’’ he said at Friday’s shootaround.”You’ve got a lot of guys who are free agents. The guys have been great about it all year, just playing through it. You have to play and not worry about anything except what you can control now and how you’re playing as a player right now.
“I’ve been a free agent before,’’ said Corbin, who noted there are a lot of factors for players including trying to not get hurt.
“You’ve got a lot of things that come into play now,’’ he said. “You think about all that stuff, but you can’t think about that while you’re playing.’’
POP HITS 900: With the win, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich became the 12th coach to record 900 victories in his career. Only Denver’s George Karl and Minnesota’s Rick Adelman have more wins among active coaches.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,’’ said Utah’s Corbin. “It’s a long, long way down the road in this league to get that accomplishment. It’s who he is and he has kept them getting better and focused on the things they need to be competitive and he’s done a tremendous job.’’
Former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who finished with 1,221 wins, got his 900th victory on Feb. 6, 2004 with a win over Phoenix, becoming the eighth coach to hit that milestone.
JAZZ NOTES: The Jazz have now lost 25 of their last 27 in San Antonio. The only two wins both came in the 2009-10 season . . . With his 16 rebounds, Duncan passed Shaquille O'Neal for 13th on the all-time NBA rebound list. Duncan only needed three and surpassed the total in the first quarter and by halftime had 10 boards. ... Hayward was averaging 20.3 points and shooting 51.3 percent in three games as a starter, but had an off night, scoring just five points on 2-of-10 shooting. ... The Jazz have not won on the road since Feb. 13 at Minnesota and are 0-7 since the All-Star break. ... Earlier this year, the Jazz beat the Spurs at home on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Mo Williams and lost 110-100 in November at the AT&T Center.