Jazz start well, finish poorly vs. Spurs
Another Jazz game. Another Jazz loss.
Utah's losing ways continued Saturday night against the Spurs, as Richard Jefferson's 20 points powered host San Antonio to a 111-102 win at the AT&T Center.
Al Jefferson's 23 points and eight rebounds topped Utah, which dropped its 10th game in 11 matchups.
Just two contests remain for a Jazz (37-43) team that has already been eliminated from playoff contention, and has been guaranteed a losing season for only the second time in 28 years.
"We gotta finish this season with our head up high and have some pride for ourselves," Jefferson said. "We just ain't going out here and lay down. We're going to play hard."
Utah started well, opening a 14-10 lead. But Paul Millsap was plagued by early foul trouble, C.J. Miles' late-season swoon continued and Devin Harris' touch was off. With three starters either struggling or sitting on the bench, the Jazz soon fell behind.
San Antonio (61-19) took a 25-22 advantage into the second quarter. The Spurs then closed the half with a 9-0 blitz, running off the points during a 1-minute, 39-second flurry before the break.
"They are a great ball club," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They don't care who leads them in scoring every night, as long as they win the game. They do a great job of sharing the ball. If one guy is struggling, they go to the next guy."
Millsap bounced back in the third quarter and rookie Derrick Favors (season-high 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting) continued his rise. But the Jazz's defense fell apart, while the team's offense turned to inefficient one-on-one play.
Meanwhile, the Spurs stuck together. San Antonio's lead then swelled to 83-66 midway through the period, built off easy interior baskets and wide-open perimeter looks.
Seven points by reserve Earl Watson in less than four minutes allowed the Jazz to pull within 91-85 with 8:06 left in the fourth quarter.
But the Spurs who possess the best record in the NBA quickly returned to form, easily matching Utah's baskets, splitting the Jazz's weak defense and again gaining separation.
"I really thought we had a chance to win the game tonight," Jefferson said. "We just made too many mistakes."