Posted on February 13, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Utah Jazz are probably the only team in the NBA that wouldn’t mind if the All-Star break could be pushed back a few weeks. San Antonio, on the other hand, probably can’t wait for it. Why? Utah is playing fantastic basketball right now and the Spurs—not so much. That was certainly evident Monday night when the Spurs took on the Jaz in Salt Lake City.
Normally, the Spurs shouldn’t have too much trouble handling a .500 team like the Jazz.
But the Spurs have struggled to play with any kind of consistency this season due to all the injuries. They may go three quarters playing solid defense but then give up the game in the other quarter. The same can be said for their offense.
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During the first half of the game, it looked like the Spurs were going to play decent defense and offense, but the Jazz was going to play better. The game was close after the first with the Jazz holding a slight lead, 25-22. But a 20-4 run in the second saw Utah take a 54-42 lead with 2:24 to go. A 6-0 run by the Spurs to close out the quarter made the score, 4-48, Jazz at the half.
Utah was the definition of on fire in the second hitting 11 of 19 shots. But the Spurs were not about to let them coast to a win in the second half. San Antonio kept the momentum going in the third and managed to take the lead, 61-60, with 6:44 to play in the quarter after a Kyle Anderson layup.
The game remained close for most of the third, but a 9-1 by the Spurs to close the quarter saw San Antonio take a 77-69 lead into the fourth quarter.
San Antonio extended its lead to 83-70 with 9:29 to play. But then everything fell apart. Either the defense quit or the Jazz could do no wrong. They outscored the Spurs 31-16 the rest of the way to steal the win from San Antonio, 101-99.
Donovan Mitchell put the Jazz up 100-99 with an 18-footer with 39.2 seconds to play. A bad pass put the ball back under Utah’s control forcing San Antonio to foul. But Mitchell only made one of two and with 17.3 seconds to go, the Spurs had enough time.
But Manu Ginobili couldn’t make the 24-foot buzzer beater for the win. So, instead, the Jaz win their tenth straight and see their record climb above .500, 29-28.
“This is one of those games you’re fortunate to win,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said (ESPN). “You have to catch some breaks. We just continued to compete. That’s really all it comes down to. When you do that, you put yourself in a position to catch a break.”
Donovan Mitchell led the way for Utah with 25 points and seven rebounds on the night followed by Joe Ingles with 20 points. Derrick Favors chipped in 19 points and Rudy Gobert a double-double (10 points and 12 rebounds).
All five San Antonio starters scored in double figures but no one had more than Kyle Anderson’s 16. Pau Gasol tried to steal the show with one of his best nights this season—15 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists.
San Antonio will be back in action Tuesday night against the Nuggets in Denver. Utah fans will have to wait until Valentine’s Day to see if their team can make it 11 in a row with a win over Phoenix.
San Antonio has been struggling enough this season without Kawhi Leonard, but for the last couple of nights, they’ve been without LaMarcus Aldridge as well (who will be out until after the All-Star break).
“We just have to figure out a way to win,” guard Tony Parker said (ESPN). “We were up 13. We had a good chance, but we didn’t make the shots in the end.”
As they are, they’ll make the playoffs. But they will not make it far if guys don’t get healthy. They are expecting to get Aldridge and Rudy Gay back after the break. But there is no word on when Leonard is going to play.
Utah is still on the outside looking in for the playoffs. They are currently 1.5 games behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the No. 8 seed in the West.