Jazz suffer familiar loss to Spurs
SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio's Tony Parker said he wanted to leave the Jazz with "no hope" after Game 2 of the NBA's Western Conference finals at the AT&T Center on Tuesday night.
His Spurs might have done just that.
Once again putting on a basketball tutorial with pinpoint passing, brilliant playmaking and an unstoppable all-around game - they even threw in some unusually good three-point shooting - the Spurs ran away with a 105-96 victory that made the inexperienced Jazz look like a team that is simply overmatched against arguably one of the best teams in league history.
"Collectively, it's just not flowing," the Jazz's Derek Fisher said.
In a virtual replay of the series opener, the Jazz once again fell far behind, rallied late, but ultimately never seriously threatened to snap what is now an 18-game losing streak against the Spurs in Texas.
While Carlos Boozer bounced back from his off night in the series opener with 33 points and 15 rebounds, the rest of the Jazz fell apart in the second quarter, just as they had done in Game 1. The Jazz scored just 17 points - one more than the franchise-record low in a playoff game - while the Spurs built most of what grew into a 22-point lead and pushed the Jazz two games from elimination.
"It's pretty hard to explain," the Jazz's Andrei Kirilenko said.
The Spurs did everything they did while winning Game 1, and added a playoff-high 13 three-pointers and a much better rebounding effort.
Reserve Brent Barry hit three bombs to help build the Spurs' lead in the second quarter - he had been scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting in his previous three games - and teammate Bruce Bowen hit back-to-back long-range shots once the Jazz cut the lead to 83-76 midway through the fourth quarter.
"It just seemed like right when we needed a stop, they got a layup, they got a three . . . and that lead jumped right back up," Boozer said.
The Jazz had hoped to play better interior defense against the Spurs, but "all that did was open up the outside shot," Fisher said. San Antonio's Michael Finley and Manu Ginobili joined Bowen and Barry in making three three-pointers apiece.
In contrast, the Jazz shot just 3-for-11 from three-point range.
"Every time we started making a run, they made a three," the Jazz's Deron Williams said. "It definitely hurt us."
Tim Duncan again led the Spurs with 26 points and 14 rebounds, while point guard Tony Parker continued to slash into the heart of the Utah defense and wound up not only with 17 points, but also 14 assists, as he frequently kicked the ball out to his teammates for open jump shots.
"Every time I penetrate, they are wide open," Parker said.
The Jazz still could not stop Ginobili or center Fabricio Oberto, either. Ginobili scored 17 points, while Oberto added a career playoff-high 14 for the second straight game and the Spurs looked like a team that simply has too many weapons for the Jazz to stop.
"They're just a great team," Williams said. "They take what the defense gives you, they can hurt you in so many ways, and tonight it was from outside.
"They were even with us in points in the paint, so it's not like they weren't getting those inside touches and inside points. They just happened to be hitting, and that's how they are. You have to pick your poison with the team, and they make you pay in so many ways."
Williams scored 26 points after getting a career playoff-high 34 in the series opener, including 10 in the fourth quarter to go with 10 assists.
But Williams said it won't be easy for the Jazz to reproduce their first-round victory against the Houston Rockets, when they rallied after losing the first two games on the road.
"The series is not over," he said. "But it's a lot worse to be down 2-0 to the Spurs than it is to the Rockets. They're a better team - defensively, offensively.
"They have championships, and guys know how to win. They're also a much better road team. . . . So it's going to be tough."
Maybe even - dare we say it? - hopeless.