On Friday, the San Antonio Spurs’ regular rotation players played deep into the fourth quarter in their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in San Antonio. After a flight that night to Utah, the Spurs faced a back-to-back sequence and stretch of four games in five nights.
So how did the team do Saturday against the Jazz? Well, they won their fourth game in a row with a 100-84 victory over Utah in a game in which San Antonio had led by 21 points at one time. The Jazz challenged the Spurs with a thin frontcourt and Tim Duncan took advantage of the defense on his way to 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Here’s a rundown of the Spurs’ 19th win of the season and 14th straight against teams with losing records.
First Quarter: Spurs 23, Jazz 17
Player of the quarter: Tony Parker – 6 points - Though the offense struggled early on, Parker (15 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds) put in six points in a quick spurt by scoring in a give-and-go sequence with Duncan, then he had another basket with a tear drop in back-to-back possessions.
Second Quarter: Spurs 32, Jazz 23
Half: Spurs 55, Jazz 40
Player of the quarter: Duncan – 7 points - After shooting 2-of-8 in the first quarter mainly off pick-and-pop jump shot opportunities, Duncan responded with a strong second quarter where he shot 3-of-5 by getting himself easier looks in the offense. His first sequence was a pick-and-roll with Parker that resulted in an open dunk under the basket. He then scored with a tip-in after a Parker miss and then went retro by going into the post and hitting a fade away bank shot over Derrick Favors.
Kawhi Leonard – 6 points - Before Parker returned to the lineup, Leonard (13 points, 2 steals) was the focal point of the offense as he scored quickly by driving into the paint and made a layup through two defenders. Then he had Richard Jefferson defending him one-on-one, and he took Jefferson near the elbow and hit a jumper over him. Lastly, as the Spurs were moving the ball around, Leonard cut under the basket and Duncan found him for an open layup.
Matt Bonner – 6 points - On back-to-back possessions, the Jazz defense committed two costly errors. First, Favors trailed Parker deep into the paint and then out to the corner 3-point area; Parker saw Bonner wide-open above the arc and found Bonner for the open three. Then on the following possession, Jeremy Evans trailed Leonard into the paint, which resulted in Leonard passing back to Bonner for another three.
Third Quarter: Spurs 25, Jazz 26
After three: Spurs 80, Jazz 66
Player of the quarter: Duncan – 7 points – In the third, Duncan continued to work in the post on several possessions as he first made a post-spin move over Favors, then Parker fed him deep underneath the rim and Duncan scored with a light hook-in. His last post-scoring possession came over the lanky Evans.
Leonard/ Patty Mills – 5 points each – When Jeff Ayers was receiving a double-team under the rim, he found Leonard right next to him for an open dunk. As Duncan began posting, Jefferson was watching and left Leonard open in the corner, where Duncan found him for another Kawhi 3-pointer. Once Mills (11 points) came in off the bench, he got himself going with a give-and-go open layup from Manu Ginobili. Then, with 26.9 seconds left before the end of the quarter, Mills was camped out in the corner as Aron Baynes (9 points, 8 rebouds) found him for the open 3-pointer.
Fourth Quarter: Spurs 20, Jazz 18
Final: Spurs 100, Jazz 84
Player of the quarter: Marco Belinelli – 5 points – In the fourth, Belinelli (11 points) scored early in the quarter with an open mid-range jumper off a Baynes screen. Then, just before the final minute of the game Belinelli found himself an open 3-pointer off solid ball movement from his teammates as he connected on his third 3-pointer of the night.
· The Spurs’ bench outscored the Jazz’s bench 47-22.
· The Spurs scored half of their points in the paint (50 points).
· Belinelli went 3-of-3 from beyond the arc as he continues to lead the NBA at 56.5% when looking at players who have played more than 20 games and attempt more than one 3-pointer per game.
· In back-to-back nights, Danny Green did not see any action in the fourth quarter. After playing 11 minutes against the Timberwolves on Friday, he only played 17 against the Jazz. Halfway through December, he’s averaging just 5.3 points per game and shooting 30% from 3-point range. He’s also averaging 10.6 points per game against the Eastern Conference and 4.8 points against the West. Take a look at Green's shot chart through 14 days of December.
· The Spurs threw 24 assists in the win and they continue to lead the NBA with 25.3 assists per game. They also assisted on 59% of their made baskets Saturday, while they are ranked 7th in that category at 61.1%.
Mills on his inbound steals
If there’s one thing Mills is known for, it’s his backcourt steals off inbounds passes. After the game, Sean Elliot asked Mills about his steals, here was Mills’ response:
Where they stand: With the win, the Spurs improved to 19-4 on the season. They also moved to 10-2 on the road, they won their 11th game by 10 or more points, they are 14-0 against teams that are below .500, and 10-3 against the Western Conference. They hold the highest Net Rating in the NBA at +11.4. They’re 4th in offensive rating at 107.1 points per 100 possessions, and their defense continues to rank 2nd in the league at 95.6 points per 100 possessions.
Up Next: The Spurs traveled to Los Angeles where they’ll have an off day on Sunday before resuming play on Monday as they face the Clippers. The Clippers are currently 16-9 on the season, 8-2 at home, and are 4-4 against winning teams. The Clippers have an offensive rating at 105.8 (tied for 7th) points per 100 possessions, a defensive rating of 100.8 (8th) points per 100 possessions, and have a Net Rating of +4.9 (7th).