The Spurs nearly pulled off their first wire-to-wire win of the season with a 119-111 victory over the Jazz on Friday. The good guys trailed for just 14 seconds, all of which came within the first 62 seconds of game time, a feat which would be much more impressive had it happened in a game of consequence for both sides.
Instead, the Spurs found themselves facing off against a Jazz squad missing four starters, including Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Whether the Jazz were resting injured players, conducting some large-scale load management with a back-to-back looming tomorrow, or engaging in a little playoff seeding gamesmanship is hard to say, but the move resulted in a Joe Ingles-led starting five that was significantly out-played by their counterparts in silver and black.
After giving up that early 3-1 lead, the Spurs starters took control of the game with a 21-5 run fueled by the pick and roll. Jakob Poeltl scored the first two buckets of the run rolling to the basket for layups on consecutive plays and as he continued to bend the defense with his screens and movement the offense found easy looks all over the floor. All but 2 of the team’s points in that span (DeMar DeRozan’s layup in transition) were scored or assisted on by the pick and roll ball handler.
Paced by Derrick White’s 24 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, the Spurs offense continued to score easily and often, especially when he shared the floor with Jakob Poeltl, who chipped in 19 points of his own to go with 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. Not coincidentally, the Spurs outscored the Jazz by 20 points with both Derrick and Jakob on the floor.
Still, the Jazz were feisty and refused to be put away early. Despite leading for the final 45 minutes and 43 seconds, the Spurs never stretched their advantage past the 16 point spread they achieved late in the 1st quarter and the Jazz were still within 7 with less than 2 minutes to go in the game. Led by Jordan Clarkson’s 24 points and some team-wide sharpshooting from deep, knocking down 16 of their 37 three pointers (43.2%), the Jazz kept the game within reach the whole way.
But, despite some sloppy play down the stretch, the Spurs never really appeared to be in danger, always exerting just enough discipline to stop the momentum anytime the Jazz got rolling. It wasn’t a pretty win, but there are no style points in playoff seeding, so this one will count just like any other.
- The Spurs dominated in the lane, scoring 64 points inside for their second highest total points in the paint of the season. The Jazz, meanwhile, struggled to just 34 points in the paint, the 2nd lowest total the Spurs have allowed so far this year.
- Drew Eubanks took a solid elbow to the chin attempting to contest a Rayjon Tucker drive to the basket early in the 4th quarter and was called for a foul. The Spurs immediately challenged the call, which somehow stood up under review, but the outcome isn’t nearly as important as the clear evidence that Drew can take a shot. Though, to be fair, had he reacted like a soccer player and flailed on the ground, he might have actually gotten the call.
- For the first time sine the restart, Derrick didn’t draw a charge, ending his 4 game streak, though he still leads the league in Orlando with 9 charges drawn, 4 more than the 2nd-placed P.J. Tucker.
Next up: vs. the Pelicans on Sunday.
The Spurs will match up with the Pelicans, who, pending the results of tonight’s contest vs the Wizards, are currently just a game behind the Spurs. The game is a must win for both teams, so expect a more compelling contest.