NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 69:
Utah Jazz 97 @ San Antonio Spurs 104 (OT)
Time to bring out your best Eva Longoria jokes, Parker is back!
Although the Jazz did not win this game, I am proud of this team. They were playing like poop the last few games, and started off each of those games playing like poop; but tonight they played with some rare qualities called teamwork, pride, and heart. In fact they actually LED after the first quarter on the road against the best team in the Western Conference, 21-18. Let's go over all the ways why this is remarkable. First, we suck on the road. Second, we usually suck in the first quarter. Third, we have been conditioned to be blitzed by the Spurs whenever we play them. Fourth, we had been playing particularly poorly the last few weeks. Our team came through collectively, and spurred on by Tyrone Corbin inserting the C4 to play all at the same time in the first, and having the under-utilized youth come out there and put up resistance on defense. It was a fun time in the first quarter, our guards were making shots, Mo Williams was making nice passes and pushing the tempo. And Derrick Favors was blocking everything he possibly could. He had 4 blocks in a little over 6 minutes of action to start the game.
The Jazz extended the lead to 8 points, but the Spurs did not panic, especially not with Tony Parker back from injury. Parker scored when he had to, and kept San Antonio in it with opportunistic baskets. However, in a throwback game of sorts, Tim Duncan was having a remarkable impact on this game with his defensive rebounding and free throw shooting (I'm Ron Burgundy?) -- he started 9/9 and had the quickest double double in his career while making only one FG. At the half the Jazz led 41-38 and I made the biggest mistake ever -- I called my dad (in a way earlier time zone), woke him up from his sleep, to talk smart about how his Spurs only had 38 points at half. I even went so far to say "They usually score 104 points a game . . . 38 points is very far from that."
Yeah. There's like a life lesson here somewhere.
The Jazz held it together for most of the third quarter, withstanding San Antonio's runs. They cut the lead to to just 2 after three. And the 'game within the game' was going to end up being the Spurs experience and poise against our miss-mash of a lineup. We were well on our way to victory but some poor shot attempts and even worse defensive rotations had the Spurs leading by a very thin margin with the clock ticking. Gordon Hayward made a jumper to tie the game 83-83 with 2:28 left. Tony Parker drew a foul and missed both free throws, and Al Jefferson got the rebound. He would score 13 seconds later off a great pass from Mo Williams to put the Jazz up by 2. Manu Ginobili answered with a layup, Paul Millsap missed a shot, and then Kawhi Leonard hit a three. Spurs now up by 3 with 1:06 remaining. Mo made a two pointer, and then some really crazy, sloppy plays happened. After one Jazz time out, and two Spurs time outs (it was a crazy sequence), Parker got to the line again, and made both. Spurs up 3 with 10 seconds left.
And then the Jazz played patent basketball, worked the ball for the extra shot, and got it to Marvin Williams in the corner, he pump faked, let the defender fly by, gathered himself, got his feet set behind the line -- and nailed a huge three as time expired.
I wish that's where the story ended, but the Spurs would not let us finish with a tie. They stepped on our necks in OT and doubled our output. Parker at 6 points by himself, we would only score 7 total in OT. Mo Williams took some tough shots and miss them, worse still he missed a bunch of free throws in this game. That really sucks because he's such a good shooter you almost expect all his freebies to go in. Utah made some bone head plays in overtime as well on offense (like the bad pass / backcourt violation to Randy Foye) and on defense (leaving guys open for three, like Olympic Gold Medalists).
We did not win, but we showed some heart. We played as a team. Our players did some good things and did some bad things. Our coaches did some good things and did some bad things too. It wasn't a perfect game, and the Spurs were not playing the perfect game either (they botched one inbounds play late in the game that made Gregg Popovich get really really mad). I have no problem with taking one of the best teams in the league to overtime on the road, and falling to them. They are better coached, more experienced, and never panic. They're a good team. And I'd take a hard fight against them anyday over a blowout over a bad team.
Mo Williams finished with 23 points, 8 assists, 3 steals, and made one really huge three when we needed it. He also shot above 50 fg% in this game. His defense isn't his calling card, but you could say he was comparable to Parker tonight (22 points, 5 assists). Parker did take control down the stretch and got the win. Mo tried to answer. Props to him for trying though.
Al Jefferson finished with 18 and 13, with 3 steals, 2 blocks, and 2 assists. It's a very good line, and he had one clutch bucket as well, but he was not very efficient (18 points off of 23 shots). That said, the Spurs are a really good defensive club. Jefferson's defense was less than stellar again, but not many people his size are actually GOOD at cutting off speedy guards in the lane.
Paul Millsap had a much better game, but only finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. "Only". It's still a really good line, but he did not dominate and we had trouble getting him the ball when matched up by a smaller guy.
Alec Burks was a star off the bench with 14 points (6/9 shooting, 2/3 from downtown), but didn't really do much else on the statsheet besides get one offensive rebound. That said if you watched the game you could see how effective he was on defense. He was quick enough to get around / through screens (and not go behind the screen) and that prevented a lot of dribble penetration. It was nice to see, and he had an effective game letting the game come to him. He wasn't forcing things.
Marvin Williams almost had a double double off the bench too, finishing with 9 points, 9 rebounds (3 offensive), 1 assist, 1 steal, and that great three to send the game to OT.
Derrick Favors changed the tone of this game with his defense, but only played 19 minutes. He had 6 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks for his troubles. He also added a 1 steal and one soul destroying jam.
Randy Foye had a nice bounce back game with 8 points and 5 assists, and went 2/3 from downtown. Gordon Hayward did NOT have a good game, and finished with 5 points (2/10 FG), but also added 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 three, and 1 block. So, by the standard we have set for him not a good game at all. Enes Kanter went 0/4 in this game, and had 3 points and 3 rebounds, with one steal.
Tyrone Corbin went 9 deep in this game. Interesting. I'm happy with the overall effort tonight. Against lesser teams this is a win. We need to keep it up, and we'll see results. And congrats to Pop on his 900th victory tonight, still more than 100 behind Jerry Sloan, but whatever . . .