Project Spurs would like to welcome Emily Allen. In her first post, she recaps the Spurs vs. Jazz game from January 20, 2010. Look forward to many great articles from her in the future for Spurs fans everywhere.
By Emily Allen
It was a frustrating night at the AT&T Center as the San Antonio Spurs (25-16) faced the Utah Jazz (24-18) in the last of the teams’ four-game season series. For the Jazz, it ended in a hard-fought clean sweep with a 105-98 over the Spurs.
Coming off a 97-90 win in New Orleans on Monday afternoon, the Spurs took to the court with Tony Parker, DeJuan Blair, Keith Bogans, George Hill and Tim Duncan as the starting lineup. Duncan came into the game a mere 15 points shy of reaching the 20,000-point career milestone.
San Antonio had first possession, but found themselves in trouble immediately with three turnovers in the first two and a half minutes of the game. It would be a full five minutes of play before Richard Jefferson scored a three-pointer to put the Spurs on the board after Utah’s unanswered 12-point scoring spree. This was Jefferson’s first return to the court after sitting out against the Hornets due to back spasms.
The Spurs found their rhythm, resulting in a 25-point run led by Hill from the end of the first well into the second quarter. Hill’s last second three-pointer gave San Antonio their first lead of the game, 22-21. Four of the eleven scoring plays in the total scoring drive were three point shots from Hill, Jefferson and Manu Ginobili.
With 5:12 left in the first half, Blair’s 2-point basket created a 13-point Spurs lead over the Jazz. However, Utah came back with a vengeance, squandering the Spurs’ lead to a mere five points by the end of the half. Spurs were getting it done in the paint as they scored 22 of the their 50 points.
Going into the halftime break and with only three points to his name for the game thus far, Duncan walked back into the team’s locker room with a look of sheer disappointment. But to begin the third quarter, he came back to score nine of San Antonio’s 20 points in the third quarter.
The Spurs were able to respond to several of Utah’s baskets at the beginning of the half, but couldn’t fully recover from their powerful offense of the Jazz. A foul from Duncan sent Carlos Boozer to the free throw line; the Jazz were able to get the best of the Spurs by gaining a 2-point lead, 60-58, with less than seven minutes on the clock.
Errors and fouls continued to plague the Spurs, as Utah was able to score 23-of-26 free throws (or of their 60 total points scored) in the second half. Ginobili made 3-of-4 free throws in the last 1:21 of the third, narrowing Utah’s lead to four points going into the fourth.
The rhythm that finally brought the Spurs into the game midway through the first quarter became very hard to find as Utah made their presence known. Having developed a 12-point lead, the Jazz made it difficult for San Antonio to make a comeback by dominating the fourth quarter. The tide began to turn for the Spurs as Parker and Ginobili led the surge to answer nearly every point lost to Utah, to the point San Antonio was within range of taking over while down by 3 with 48 seconds left.
Just thirty seconds left on the clock, Duncan fouled out of the game at 19,999 career points - one point shy of the mark so many fans had hoped he’d reach in the game against the Jazz. He’ll have to wait until Friday evening when the Spurs take on the Houston Rockets in San Antonio.
Beginning with Duncan’s final foul, Utah’s last six points of the game were all free throws. Only Parker was able to scored one last basket for San Antonio, bringing the final score to 105-98.
Ginobili led the team in scoring with 22 points, followed by Parker with 20, Hill scored 16 and Duncan had 14. Blair and Duncan led in rebounds with 11 and 10 respectively; Ginobili led with 8 assists.
Turnovers seem be one of the biggest problems plaguing this Spurs team. With 16 turnovers in this game alone, certainly better control would have changed the first few minutes of the game. In addition, the three-point shooting needs to improve desperately; San Antonio made 6-of-21 tonight - four of which were made in the first half 25-point scoring burst.
The Spurs remain in second place in the Southwest Division and are currently two and a half games back of the division leading Dallas Mavericks. The Spurs will next face the Houston Rockets in San Antonio this Friday night.