I'm going to be honest here, a game without Utah Jazz point guard Dante Exum made this a slightly less interesting game overall. It was really up to Rodney Hood to keep the Jazz in this one, and somehow he did keep them in it against the San Antonio Spurs.You could say that the Utah Jazz don't beat the San Antonio Spurs 72-70 without Hood. But if you look a little deeper it was a team game and a team win. And Jack Cooley and Chris Johnson showed that Dante and Rodney aren't the only Sophs on this Summer league team.
The first half was frustrating because the Spurs kept getting to the rim and kept getting offensive rebounds. Chris Johnson (who came off the bench today) was a guy keeping the team with their head above water with his three point shooting and general, all-around hustle. Kyle Anderson, for the Spurs, was just unstoppable though. And all of the Spurs no-name guys were running their system, making the extra pass, and getting to the line. Brock Motum was hit and miss. Bryce Cotton was fast and took a bunch of shots. Olivier Hanlan hasn't really impressed -- even though the gameplan early was to get him going. But the first half was really all about Rodney Hood and Chris Johnson. And sadly, the Jazz were down at half, and then I have no idea what happened during the third quarter because a man came to my house with a pizza. (*Whisper* I think it had something to do with ordering a pizza about 20 minutes earlier. Don't tell anyone!)
In the middle of the fourth the Jazz went on a huge run and took the lead on a J.J. O'Brien three with the shot clocking running out. The remaining four minutes was punctuated by two teams looking to go 2-0 in Utah. You could tell that both teams wanted it. The Spurs were digging a little deeper on defense, and the Jazz brought Jack Cooley back on the court to eat up the paint. Rodney Hood got to the rim for an And-1 with 3 minutes left and a tie game and helped put the Jazz up by three.
Each time down the court the ball got in Rodney Hood's hands, and if the team was going to win this one, it would be up to him. On the other side of the floor, the Spurs were just Spurring it up. The Spurs had a time out, to set up a play -- a number of screens for Kyle Anderson. Rodney defended him excellently, and Anderson missed at the rim. Cooley got the rebound, and the Jazz walked it up and set up their play. It was supposed to be a pick and roll between Cooley and Cotton at the top of the arc, with the hope that Hood would get open. Hood did not, as he was holding his hand -- he hurt it playing defense. Cotton got the ball to Johnson who missed a shot. The Spurs ran it up the court and took a time out with 4.4 seconds left and down by two.
Anderson vs. Hood part 2, right?
Hood got shook and fell down, Anderson had lane, missed another layup because of great help defense by Chris Johnson -- and then Hood cleaned up the mess. Jazz win 72-70. Another solid game.