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Spurs can immediately avenge their only loss

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Before the second end of the home-and-home on Friday, one last look at the Spurs' only loss so far this season.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

"Guess who just got back today / Them wild-eyed boys that had been away /

Haven't changed that much to say / But man, I still think them cats are crazy"

Not only were the San Antonio Spurs playing home basketball in the AT&T Center, but they hosted a trio of familiar faces Tuesday night, as forever-Spur Boris Diaw (a late scratch, who most likely feigned injury as to not destroy his old friends), former fan-favorite George Hill (more on him below), and coach Quinn Snyder (one of the healthiest branches of the Pop tree) arrived in San Antonio.

[The irony is not lost on me that I used THIN Lizzy lyrics to describe Boris Diaw]

Both teams were short a few options. The Utah Jazz had Alec Burks and star-player Gordon Hayward (along with Diaw and Raul Neto) out and heavily limited Derrick Favors. The Spurs were without Danny Green and Davis Bertans. All things considered, the Spurs were the heavy favorite (not a Boris pun, I promise) against the struggling Jazz, entering the game with records of 4-0 and 1-2 respectively.

While Boris sat, nattily attired in a smart purple blazer and purple heathered sweater number, George Hill did his stepping out on the actual hardwood.

Impressive throughout the game, it was when the Spurs closed the score to 88-86 with a Pau Gasol putback slam with 5:24 remaining that Hill seemed to take over. He scored Utah’s next eight points, pushing the lead to to 96-88 which ultimately put the game away. Hill finished with 22 points and 7 assits, shooting a shade under 70% from the field.

It was not just a "scorned ex-lover really dressing up to show you how great their life is now" performance either; Hill has had a great start since arriving in Utah. His numbers as the key player on a Jazz team without Favors or Hayward at full-strength have been impressive and admirable. Scoring, (31.0 points per 100) taking care of the ball, (4.75 AST/TO) great usage, (23.5% USG) and excellent efficiency (63.9% True Shooting) through the first four games.

(But did you hear that the Spurs traded him for Kawhi? You may've heard that)

The troubles started early in the first quarter for the Spurs who didn't play tremendous defense, but couldn't stop Utah even when they were guarded. The Jazz accomplished the minor feat of making their season average for 3-pointers...during the 1st quarter. Heading into the second, they were on pace for a mere 28 three pointers!

Shot chart - Jazz

And it wasn't any one player, the entire Jazz team seemed hot in both the first and fourth quarters especially. In fact, Tuesday marked the first time six Utah Jazz players (Hill, Rodney Hood, Joe Johnson, Trey Lyles, Shelvin Mack, Joe Ingles) made multiple threes in a single game (according to Elias Sports Bureau). If you remove Lyle's human 2-for-7, the other five shot over 54%.

The Spurs did show some life however, and the game was much closer than the 15 point final score would indicate. There were especially great sequences in the second and third quarters where LaMarcus or Kawhi looked up to task. Outside of that, the Spurs simply looked to be in the midst of an off night.

Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker had brief glimpses of brilliance (savvy Manu drew two offensive fouls in about 5 minutes), but each looked to be a percentage of their former selves at other times. Parker espeically seemed to be a defensive target for the Jazz down the stretch. Jonathon Simmons made his third career start, but seemed to disrupt the Juiceless "Juice Unit," as the Spurs bench was soundly outplayed for the first time this season. Simmons had the monster play of the night, but it was the only one of his seven field goals he converted (though a late fast-break miscommunication may've squandered a second power dunk opportunity).

Kawhi Leonard shot an impressive 5-for-7 from three, accounting for 83% of the Spurs production from deep. He finished the night with another MVP-caliber performance, though there is some room for improvement. He finished with only two assists while controlling the flow of the offense, though, admittedly, one of them was one of my favorite Kawhi plays ever (he fakes out the entire Utah Jazz defense).

The final image of the game was a fitting one.

Up 103-91 with 11 seconds left, after the Spurs make a pair of un-Spursy turnovers, Rodney Hood flung up a Steph Curry Heat Check from about 8 feet behind the arc. Like most Jazz shots on the night. It was never in doubt from the moment it left his hand.

The Boys were back in town, but the mojo wasn't. Let's hope the Spurs grab it on the way to Salt Lake where they'll meet the Jazz for a second time on Friday.

Quote of the Night

Game Ball

Pau Gasol was quietly effective. Simmons did have THAT dunk. LaMarcus had it going for a while.

But this ball clearly belongs to Kawhi Leonard's giant hands and equally outsized production: 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. He turned his three-point shooting around, an area he had been oddly slumping in to start the season. We all need to make sure we are appreciating the perpetual metamorphosis happening before our eyes.

Kawhi reached 30+ points four times last season. He already has three 30-point games in five games this year.

Numbers Game

8919 - points scored by Ray Allen from beyond the arc. There are three in particular that Spurs fans may remember...

73rd - Tony Parker passed Steph Curry's dad for 73rd on the all-time regular season games played list (if you combine to factor in playoff games, he is much, much higher on the all-time list) with 1084.

67 - % of points the Jazz scored outside of the paint (three-pointers and mid-range). Pau was swatting away shots, Dedmon looked springy and athletic (when it didn't involve coordination or holding onto the ball). Not exactly what you expect for a team possessing one of the best young frontcourts in the NBA (Gobert/Favors). Weird night.

3 -1. The Warrios record is currently 3-and-1. If you're reading this article via the series of tubes known as the internet, you get this joke.

102,000,000 - It pays to be super tall and athletic (and French?). Rudy Gobert is $102 M richer after his extensionannounced before the game.

Hot Takes

  • The Spurs won't defend as poorly on Friday as they did on Tuesday. It wasn't a constant mess, and it's not to take away from the Jazz executing their offense wonderfully and hitting the shots they created, but Popovich will have plenty of "teaching moments."
  • The Spurs must have at least a 3rd scorer in double digits, every night. They had three players with eight points, but only Kawhi and Aldridge scored in double digits.
  • If teams are attacking Parker on defense to close out games, does it make sense to try Patty Mills? Not a classicly excellent defender, Patty is active and quick, and showed his improvement on a "Kawhi Special" steal before the offensive player put the ball on the ground.

  • Twitter

    It seemed much of the internet was watching some baseball game (wait is Cleveland on the other end of a 3-1?). Still some cyber gold.

    MVPs. Plural. I like it.

    This is a great nickname. Joe Ingles is Bojingles.

    BAHAHHAHAAHHAHA

    He's got a point.

    Welp...

    DeMarcus is must-see TV.