The Utah Jazz, who were without the services of newly-acquired ex-Spur Boris Diaw, cared not for the Spurs' impressive 4-0 start and their 40-1 record at the AT&T Center just a season ago. Instead, the upstart Jazz shot the lights out, picking apart the San Antonio defense and hitting every clutch shot in the waning moments to turn a close game into a comfortable 106-91 victory. George Hill led the Jazz with 22 points and 7 assists, followed by Rodney Hood's 19 points and 5 boards. Kawhi Leonard's 30 points (5-7 from three), 7 boards, and 2 steals paced the Spurs, while LaMarcus Aldridge pitched in 21 points on the night.
The Spurs jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a pair of jumpers from Pau and Kawhi, but this advantage would quickly dissipate as the Jazz simply could not miss. Utah executed their offense to near perfection, generating countless open looks which resulted in 7 made threes during the opening frame. Rodney Hood and George Hill wreaked havoc from outside, making the Spurs pay for their late defensive rotations. Hood would finish the first with 11 points for the visitors. Kawhi Leonard hit a pair of triples early on, keeping the Spurs afloat as the game began to feel like a three-point contest. Unfortunately the Spurs bench was missing Jonathon Simmons, who replaced Kyle Anderson in the starting lineup, so the Juice Unit struggled to stifle Utah's momentum. After shooting 72.2% from the field and 5-5 from the charity stripe, the Jazz held a strong 38-28 lead at the end of the first.
Shelvin Mack came off the bench and picked up where his starting teammates left off, attacking the Spurs defense at the rim and on the perimeter en route to 10 first half points. Jonathon Simmons was blocked on a three-point attempt from the corner, which was a microcosm of how the first half played out for the Spurs fan-favorite. J-Simms looked out of control and lost at times, and very much like a player unaccustomed to facing the opposing team's starters. Utah continued to stay hot, pushing their lead to as high as 16 points. And then Kawhi Leonard decided to take the game over, as he's done all season. The Klaw scored 8 straight points midway through the half, willing the Spurs back to life almost single-handedly. Almost. Pau Gasol provided outstanding rim protection, blocking and altering nearly every Utah attempt at the rim, and LaMarcus Aldridge came alive offensively, tying the game on a jumper with 2:56 left and finishing the half with 10 points. An inspired effort by the Spurs starting unit cut into the deficit and the Jazz led 54-50 heading into the break.
The Jazz offense came back to Earth after playing with a first half lineup consisting of 5 Steph Curry's. Suddenly the visitors were failing to drain the open jumpers that came so easily. The Spurs took their first lead of the game since being up 4-0 just one minute into the third on a LaMarcus Aldridge and-1 that came off a high-low pass from Pau Gasol, reminiscent of Tim Duncan's high-low passes to LMA last year. Tony Parker had a beautiful finish at the rim to get into the action, but the Spurs couldn't stretch their advantage beyond 3 points, and eventually the Jazz rattled off a 10-0 run to take a 70-63 lead. Patty Mills threw a beautiful alley-oop to J-Simms in transition for a thunderous dunk, and the Spurs bench brought enough Juice to leave the good guys down just 73-71 at the end of three.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard continued to be a potent 1-2 punch in the fourth, coming alive and keeping the Spurs in the thick of things just when the Jazz appeared to be in command. Leonard shot his first pair of free throws of the game midway through the fourth which is uncharacteristic for this season's rendition of the Klaw, who has been getting to the line nearly 10 times per game. After making four free throws on two straight trips to the line, Kawhi attempted a poster dunk that missed, but Pau Gasol cleaned it up with a putback dunk. George Hill showed outstanding patience on offense, setting up teammates and scoring at will down the stretch against his old team. Georgie and the Klaw, who were traded for each other five years ago, were huge for their teams in clutch time, but George Hill's teammates hit some huge threes in the closing minutes to put the game away, propelling Utah to a hard-earned, quality road win.