Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Kurt Kragthorpe: Utah Jazz benefit from exposure to Spurs’ greatness

First Published May 07 2012 10:20 pm • Last Updated Aug 28 2012 11:32 pm

Late in the first quarter Monday night, Jazz forward Derrick Favors soared to block Tiago Splitter’s dunk attempt, then guard Devin Harris raced down the court and delivered a pass that sailed high and out of bounds.

If there was a snapshot of Game 4 — and this whole series, really — that was it. Even when the Jazz managed to do something right, everything eventually went wrong.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

San Antonio’s 87-81 victory at EnergySolutions Arena gave the Spurs a convincing sweep of the series.

Whether you mostly blame the Jazz or credit San Antonio, the trend was clear from start to finish. The Jazz just never could sustain anything against a tough opponent.

Wouldn’t you know, the Jazz’s most memorable stretch of the series came at the very end, too late and starting from too far behind. After their 19-2 run cut the lead to four points, Paul Millsap lost the ball on a drive in the final 22 seconds and whatever remained of the Jazz’s hopes was gone.

In the end, Jazz center Al Jefferson was absolutely right. The Spurs were just too good. Harris’ description of the series as "a good thing to go through" will have to stand as a summary of the Jazz’s postseason benefits.

The Jazz at least were competitive at home, in contrast to the two games in San Antonio. Yet every time the Spurs were in mild danger in these two contests at ESA, they responded.

After that Harris turnover, the Spurs scored the last seven points of the first quarter, taking a 22-19 lead. In the third period, the Jazz rallied from 13 points down to pull within three, only to fade and trail by 10 entering that final period.

San Antonio’s lead just kept growing until the Jazz finally figured out something and came to life, although desperation could carry them only so far. The game’s closing sequence left the Spurs mildly shaken and Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin proud of his team, while giving the ESA crowd a more favorable final impression.

There’s still no dismissing San Antonio’s domination of this series. The Spurs won four games by an average of 16 points.

story continues below
story continues below

Corbin showed a willingness to adjust in Game 4, starting Derrick Favors (16 points, 10 rebounds) up front with Jefferson (26 points) and Paul Millsap, who struggled with 4-for-17 shooting. So that strategy partly worked, but the Jazz struggled elsewhere. Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward went a combined 0-for-15, further making the point that the Jazz’s outside shooting is the biggest issue to solve over the summer, among other shortcomings.

Ultimately, this season and this series served to illustrate how far the Jazz have come and how far they have to go. The Jazz were exposed by San Antonio to a degree that makes it tempting to say they would have been better off missing the playoffs and feeling better about themselves.

No, no, no. They had to subject themselves to the Spurs’ greatness to recognize the NBA’s elite level.

In the context of playoff sweeps in Jazz history, this is more forgivable than losing to Golden State in the first round in Jerry Sloan’s first season as coach in 1989, but worse than falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of what became Sloan’s last postseason in 2010.

The consolation is Corbin’s playoff record can only get better. Same for his team. After what the Spurs did to them, the Jazz understand what it takes now.

As the offseason arrived Monday, that knowledge was equally encouraging and discouraging.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.comTwitter: @tribkurt

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.