The Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs had a slow, ugly, and low scoring game where neither team - despite all the fouls - got it going to even hit 90 points. The 88-86 Spurs victory was one that we all expected, despite the final score being so close. The Spurs were up by double digits, but Utah didn't die. They fought back all game long to make it just 2 points with minutes to go in the third. Unfortunately many of the problems for the Jazz were catching up to them: turn overs, going 0/11 from deep, and a generalized fear of "taking it to" the Spurs. The Jazz would go 6+ minutes and 3+ minutes without a field goal. Seriously. (CanIHasAlecBurksPlz?) San Antone capitalized by going on a big run and extending their lead to 14 going into the fourth quarter. The Spurs have lost only 2 times all season long when they've been up by at least double digits. They had the cushion going into the fourth on the road against a team that was not accustomed to beating the best in the West.
What San Antonio did not count on was Joe Ingles going nuts, breaking the oh-for streak from downtown and making two threes in a row. His play on offense, defense, and in creating for others was much needed on this night.
He and Rodney Hood took control during this fantastic fourth quarter to not just whittle down the 14 point deficit but also to tie and take the lead in the game. Quin Snyder road with the hot hands and it really helped. But with seconds to play he had to bring G-Time back in. And Gordon Hayward came into the game to finish it, and had a beautiful move tie the game at 86-86 with 27 seconds to play. Hayward (at PF somehow, Derrick Favors on the bench) got LaMarcus Aldridge, drove on him, collected two defenders, juked them, they both flew away and he hit the one handed hook shot from close. It was fantastic.
Rudy Gobert was as well, giving up a bad three pointer to Tony Parker, but blocking his stuff to China shortly after.
The Spurs would get the ball back with 6 seconds in the game, and just 3 on the shot clock. After a timeout they inbounded the ball the Kawhi Leonard in a semi-post up from about 12 feet out. He did not do anything fancy, just shot it. It went in despite the good defense by Hayward.
The Jazz had a chance to tie it or take the lead with five on the clock. They didn't. After a slow count on the inbound the Jazz got it to Hood who played it like there were 8 seconds on the clock. He set himself up for a step-back three, but it went off front rim. Game over.
But, I don't think this loss means we don't make the playoffs. It just confirms our opinions on a potential Jazz / Spurs playoff series. Utah just plays poorly against San Antonio. Part of that is good defense. Part of that is help from the refs. Part of that is their legacy. And a very big part is the mental advantage. Utah shot 29% from downtown, finished with 16 turn overs, and made a lot of mistakes. The Spurs don't get shook, and finished the game shooting 44 / 41 / 90. Their run in the third really showed me that they have another gear. A gear that the Jazz currently do not have.
- Shelvin Mack: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steals, 6/10 shooting
- Rodney Hood: 23 points, 7 rebounds (huge for him), 4 assists, 1/6 from three
- Gordon Hayward: 12 points (4/11 shooting), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 0/2 from deep
- Derrick Favors: 8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 3/5 shooting, only 27 points
- Rudy Gobert: 4 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 0/2 shooting
- Raul Neto: 0 points, 1 rebound, 0/2 shooting
- Joe Ingles: 13 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 4/4 FG, 3/3 3PT, 2/3 FT in 26 minutes
- Chris Johnson: 2 minutes
- Trevor Booker: 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block -- huge energy
- Trey Lyles: 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2/9 shooting, 0/2 3PT
Trey Burke, Jeff Withey, Tibor Pleiss all DNP-CDs.
I think the Jazz could have had this one. They didn't. It's not the end of the world. Utah has four more games left this year -- all of them are that much more winnable: vs. Los Angeles Clippers, @ Denver Nuggets, vs. Dallas Mavericks, @ Los Angeles Lakers.