Tonight, the Jazz fell to the Spurs, 114-104, and the team now drops to one and a half games behind the Denver Nuggets for the West’s final playoff spot.
In what has become a chronic problem all season, the Jazz had another slow start tonight. San Antonio dominated early, scoring 31 points in the opening period and holding the Jazz to just 19 first-quarter points.
“I thought [the Spurs] were the aggressor,” said Coach Ty Corbin of his team’s slow start. “They made shots and they were aggressive. Their pick-and-rolls were [working] and [Tim] Duncan got a few going to the basket and Tony Parker is dynamic at getting into the paint and they broke us down a little bit.”
The Jazz continued to struggle in the second quarter. Utah missed 10 of their final 12 shots to end the half and fell behind by 17 points at the break.
The Jazz made several runs late in the game, including a 9-0 run in the third quarter to cut the Spurs lead to just eight points, but the game was never really in doubt. The Spurs used a combination of open three-point shots and driving layups to score, seemingly at will, against the inept Jazz defense. The Spurs scored 48 points in the paint on their way to shooting 51% from the field. And, in what was likely the biggest difference maker in the game, San Antonio shot a whopping 43 free-throw attempts (making 38) compared to the Jazz’s 26 attempts.
“We can’t play in spurts against a good team like that – they’re veterans,” said Jamaal Tinsley of the Jazz’s inconsistent play. “We’ve got to give ourselves a chance by playing the full 48 minutes.”
Both C.J. Miles and Earl Watson left the game early with injuries, leaving the Jazz with just nine active players to finish the game. Playing extended minutes due to the injuries, DeMarre Carroll responded with 16 points, including three 3-pointers, begging the question whether the Jazz’s long-distance shooting threat has been sitting on the team’s bench all season.
“This is the nature of the business,” said Tinsley of the Jazz’s untimely injuries. “Other guys get a chance to step up and [tonight] DeMarre did a good job … He was very big. He made some shots plus he also [rotated] on the defensive end and got us out in transition. His shots [were] going in tonight and we’re going to need more [of that] tomorrow night.”
Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Derrick Favors chipped in 14 points and 12 rebounds and Devin Harris finished with 18 points and six assists in the loss.
The Jazz will hope for a better outcome in their rematch against the Spurs tomorrow night in Salt Lake City.