I think we played real good basketball for the first three quarters. They are a really experienced team and the last quarter they just played harder. —Jazz center Enes Kanter
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz were cruising along and enjoying a fun ride Friday night when something unfortunate happened a couple of blocks away from I-15.
“We ran out of gas,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
When you’re a four-cylinder vehicle with engine problems trying to compete against a souped-up Ferrari, that’s not a pleasant experience.
Despite taking a lead into the fourth quarter, the Jazz saw their one-game winning streak come to an end with a 91-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
“I think we played real good basketball for the first three quarters,” Jazz center Enes Kanter said. “They are a really experienced team and the last quarter they just played harder.”
Utah led by as many as 15 points in the first half and took a 67-60 lead into the fourth quarter before wheels and other parts started falling off.
In the final 12 minutes, one team (the Spurs) looked like a 9-1 squad. The other (the Jazz) looked like a 1-9 club.
The Spurs, winners of seven straight, used a 12-2 run to open the fourth quarter to overtake Utah’s seven-point lead and hand the Jazz their ninth loss in 10 games.
Boris Diaw (17 points) began the momentum shift with a 3-pointer, Danny Green then added a couple of his own long bombs, and Tony Parker (22 points) completed a three-point play in the decisive stretch.
The Jazz reverted to their old selves, flailing in the fourth quarter while being outscored 31-15. Utah missed 16 of 23 shots in the period.
“All the guys played a little extra minutes tonight, and it cost us down the stretch,” Corbin said. “We’ll keep fighting.”
Alec Burks, starting in place of John Lucas III at the point guard position, was the only Jazz starter to play fewer than 32 minutes. Foul trouble limited him to 29 minutes, while small forward Richard Jefferson and shooting guard Gordon Hayward each played 43 minutes, power forward Derrick Favors logged 37 and Enes Kanter 32.
Favors led the Jazz in scoring with 20 points and in rebounding with a career-high 18 boards.
But Utah again struggled from the field, shooting just 38.5 percent. Hayward had the roughest offensive outing — a 5-for-23 night, including 1 for 7 from 3-point range, for 15 points.
Hayward, who’d been on a hot streak, didn’t blame his bruised right shin for his shooting woes.
“Just missed shots,” he said. “They were giving me wide-open shots and I was just missing them.”
While Diaw boosted a Spurs bench that scored 35, Utah’s second unit lacked offensive firepower. The Jazz subs only scored 11 points after Burks was moved into the starting lineup in place of struggling Lucas.
All five Jazz starters scored in double figures.
To small forward Marvin Williams’ credit, he kept going after getting elbowed in the face and suffering a broken nose. He played with a mask for a while but ditched it for his last shift.
Williams won’t have it reset until early next week, but he traveled for Saturday's game at Golden State. He hopes to be able to play even though his nose is noticeably caved in on the left side of the bridge.
“We’re getting better. We played a hard-fought game,” Williams said. “But that team is built for a championship and they’ve been in those situations before obviously. They hung in there and they made plays when they had to and they came out with a win.”
NOTES: Point guard Diante Garrett was the toast of the town after his dazzling debut in Wednesday’s win over New Orleans, but he struggled in his second outing with just two points on 1-for-7 shooting and three assists. The Jazz lost despite having a 20-2 edge on put-back points. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich when asked if the Spurs’ experience edge was the difference in the fourth: “Probably a little bit.”