The Utah Jazz (2-2) did something very few of us expected, they defeated the San Antonio Spurs (4-1). In San Antonio. Without Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Boris Diaw, or any Derrick Favors in the second half. Yes, yes, the Spurs were without Danny Green and Davis Bertans. But for reals, this win was unexpected. But greatly appreciated. The recap itself is so late coming because I had to re-watch part of the game again just to let it all sink in.
It started off a little goofy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol were working in concert together, Kawhi Leonard continues to dominate both ends of the court . . . but our plucky Jazz were hanging in there off of a truly remarkable level of three point accuracy. Rodney Hood, a quick starter, was hitting his shots. But so too were buddies Joe Johnson and George Hill. Those three helped the Jazz get on the scoreboard early. But it was players off the bench like Shelvin Mack and Trey Lyles who were keeping the Jazz in the lead. After one quarter Utah was up 38-28.
Nah, for reals.
Collectively the team crashed back down to earth in the second quarter, especially when the big lead was obliterated by Leonard and crew going on a 13-0 run. Tony Parker was turning back the clock. And Utah was missing gimmies and turning the ball over. The Spurs are the Spurs for a reason. They win games. And not all of it is because Manu Ginobili is drawing fouls and flopping all over the court like an angry halibut on the slippery floor of a fishing boat. (Only about 90% of the Spurs success is based on that though.)
Utah flatlined at 47 points at the 9:02 mark of the second, and didn’t score again until there was only 2:59 left to play. Surprisingly the Jazz bounced back to outscore the Spurs 6 to 4 after the bad guys finally knotted the game up. Up by four on the road against a great team, without Hayward and company? I’ll take it.
Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors looked comfortable with one another out there. Mack, Hood, and others were making shots. Dante Exum was playing great defense. It was a solid first half. I don’t think any of us were upset, shooting like crazy from deep averages out against the first three games of the season where the team shot extra poorly.
So third quarter collapse right? Wrong. Gregg Popovich got his team to turn up the defense pressure after the break, but Quin Snyder’s club adjusted and asserted control over the game again. It was close in the third, with the two teams trading leads for a while; however, Utah didn’t look back after a Tony Parker layup to put San Antonio up 63-60 with 5:48 to play in the quarter.
This was, really, the Trey Lyles quarter. He got the start at the half because Derrick Favors’ minutes restriction kept him out (16 first half minutes was cutting it close to the 20 min limit). He would be available in the fourth if needed. But Lyles kind of gave him half the night off. Early on in the quarter he missed two threes, turned the ball over, and got caught playing poor defense and surrendering an And-1 to Aldridge near the rim. But he didn’t feel sorry for himself, he wasn’t pulled and had no actual learning take place besides trying and failing.
Snyder kept him in, and Lyles produced. He grabbed a board and hit a jumper. He got blocked, and missed another jumper. But after the Parker layup he turned it on. He hit a three to tie the game up 63-63. Then he made a 5 foot shot, got fouled, and made the free throw to earn back that And-1. He then got another contested defensive rebound, and hit another jumper -- this time from 20 feet out. He would miss another two jumpers before sitting, but his outburst, heat checks and all, helped put the Jazz up for good.
And it helped him to stay in the game long enough to build back some confidence lost from the first few minutes of getting his lunch eaten by All-Stars and Hall of Famers like Gasol and Aldridge. When he returned in the fourth quarter it was he, not Favors, who closed out the game. And he did it by grabbing two more contested defensive rebounds and icing the game with a corner three.
It wasn’t the Trey Lyles game. Just that part of the third quarter. But having Lyles actually develop into a late game killer will only help the Jazz program going forward. This was, truly, the George Hill game. The Shelvin Mack / Dante Exum / Joe Ingles / Joe Johnson / Jeff Withey crew extended the lead. But Hill finished the last 7 minutes of this game on a mission. The moral victory was there, be beating the Spurs at home after three quarters. Hill wanted the actual victory though.
He would finish San Antonio off as follows:
- 7:07 - Assisting a Joe Johnson three (86-80 Jazz)
- 6:26 - Stealing the ball from Manu Ginobili (86-82)
- 5:47 - Making a layup (88-84)
- 5:09 - Drawing a foul on Tony Parker (88-86)
- 5:01 - Making a three (91-86)
- 4:24 - Making a 15 footer (93-88)
- 4:05 - Making another layup (95-88), and drawing another foul on Tony Parker
- 4:05 - Completing the And-1 against Tony (96-88)
- 3:01 - Getting a defensive rebound (98-91)
Coach Pop called it a night after Lyles’ three put the Jazz up 101-91 with 90 seconds to play. That four minute stretch to finish the game by Hill is where last seasons’ team would have lost it. No one stepped up when it was crunch time. Now having Hill and Joe Johnson, it’s a different Jazz team. Developing Lyles, the youngest player on the team, from a NCAA SF to someone boxing out and taking guys like Aldridge off the dribble is also important. When Rudy and Derrick are at full strength, and if we ever get to see Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, and Rodney Hood together again as a triple wing?
This is going to be a very deadly team. Even with Boris Diaw dressing like the velour fog on the sidelines.
Boris looking very handsome at the place of his last employment. 10/10 pic.twitter.com/UFrxF3gcOJ— Ashley Holcomb (@ashleyxholcomb) November 2, 2016
Our Jazz pulled away against one of the best teams there is. On the road. Gotta respect that.
- PG: George Hill (33 Mins) - 22 points, 7 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 threes
- SG: Rodney Hood (33) - 19 points, 4 threes, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
- SF: Joe Johnson (34) - 8 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 threes, 1 steal
- PF: Derrick Favors (16) - 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 50 FG%
- C: Rudy Gobert (33) - 6 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 4/6 from line
- Bench: Shelvin Mack (19) - 14 points, 2 threes, 1 rebound, 1 steal
- Bench: Dante Exum (14) - 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks
- Bench: Joe Ingles (19) - 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 2 threes
- Bench: Trey Lyles (29) - 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 threes, 2 blocks
- Bench: Jeff Withey (11) - 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block, 4/4 FT
The Utah Jazz will be back in action tomorrow night, on the second night of a back-to-back, facing the Dallas Mavericks (0-3). #DALatUTA