The Spurs continued their perfect March with a 32-point win over the hapless Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. San Antonio overcame a shaky start en route to the largest margin of victory over the Lakers in the history of the two franchises facing each other. The large win also allowed the Spurs to rest the starters and rely heavily on the bench. Danny Green led all San Antonio with 15 points, while five bench players scored in double-figures in the win. San Antonio recorded 36 assists and held Los Angeles to 34 percent shooting, including 4-of-21 from the three-point line.
The win marked the ninth in a row for the surging Spurs, who are still one game up on OKC for the best record in the Western Conference and the NBA. It is possible that San Antonio could go undefeated through the month of March when taking into account the level of play from the Spurs and the upcoming opponents on the schedule. The string of overmatched opponents continues tonight when San Antonio hosts the Utah Jazz, a team tied for the worst-record in the Western Conference with the Lakers at 22-44. Utah has lost three-straight games, including the most recent loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at home on Friday.
The Spurs match up well with nearly every team in the league, but it is especially true against teams like Utah that struggle to score. The Jazz are 28th in the league in scoring, averaging 94.7 points per game. Utah isn't much better on the defensive end, holding opponents to 100.8 points per game. That is good for 15th in the NBA, but a lot of that is a result of the style of play Utah utilizes to stay in games. The Jazz are not built to get into shootouts, so Utah prefers a slower pace of play.
It has been talked about before, but all Spurs fans need to know about the Utah offense is that it leans heavily on former Spur Richard Jefferson. In the loss to the Clippers, Jefferson scored 14 points in 36 minutes. The Jazz do have a few solid pieces in Derrick Favors, Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward, but Utah has little firepower off of the bench and no one on the roster capable of carrying an offense throughout a game against a quality defense. Hayward has been thrust into the go-to role this season, leading the team with 15.8 points per game. Backup point guard Alec Burks is second on the team with 13.8 points per game. Favors, Burke and starting center Enes Kanter also average in double-figures for the Jazz.
The Jazz aren't a particularly good rebounding team, either. Favors leads the team with 8.6 rebounds per game on a team that ranks 23rd in the league in total rebounding. San Antonio has already knocked off Utah three times this season and should complete the season-sweep with relative ease as long as the Spurs make it to the arena on time. On paper, it looks like an easy-win, but in the last meeting between the two teams, San Antonio held on late to take a 109-105 victory on January 15th. Kanter and Favors each had big games in the middle for Utah, but Tony Parker was able to take over late with 25 points and nine assists to seal the win despite being out-scored by eight points in the fourth quarter by the Jazz with Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan sitting on the bench.
Utah will face a well-oiled machine tonight, as the Spurs are playing the best basketball in the NBA right now and all of the pieces appear to be healthy and ready for the stretch-run of the regular season. The Spurs are playing for seeding while the Jazz are playing for ping pong balls and this late in the season that usually means a blowout for the better team, especially at home.
Matchup to watch: The only way Utah has success in this game is if Favors and Kanter can do damage on the offensive glass. If Utah cannot get second-chance buckets, San Antonio should win this game with its bench and offensive efficiency.
Jazz perspective can be found here: SLC Dunk.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 12.
Line in Vegas: Spurs by 15.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.
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