The visiting Utah Jazz rode a familiar blueprint of half-court execution, solid shooting (an eye-popping 21-for-41 from three), and stout defense to earn the blowout victory. The Spurs’ sluggish start and inconsistent production was a noticeable setback from their prior efforts against the Lakers.
San Antonio, which lost its fourth straight game, was paced by Keldon Johnson (22 points and 6 rebounds) and DeMar DeRozan (19 points and 5 rebounds). The Jazz were led by Donovan Mitchell (22 points and 8 assists), Bojan Bogdanovic (28 points), and Jordan Clarkson (18 points). San Antonio heads west for a road trip while Utah continues its 7-game road trip.
- Spurs guard Derrick White re-injured the same left toe that was surgically repaired last summer and sat out tonight’s game.
- Still not sure what purpose the loud background music serves when San Antonio is on offense. Disorient the visiting team? Disrupt the opponents’ play calls?
- The removal of seats behind each baseline has allowed players to careen over the baseline and court corners to keep plays alive while lhopefully decreasing player-on-fan collisions. Time will tell whether this could result in either more hustle plays earned or increasing the potential for injuries with the open space.
- Jakob Poeltl did his best to try to shed the unwanted ‘difficulty finishing at the rim’ trophy by going 4-for-6 in the first half and fearlessly took it to Gobert and Derrick Favors.
- Trey Lyles garnered playing time late in the opening stanza and supplied needed energy on the boards in his limited minutes.
- Keldon’s Kitchen: Johnson showed off a Tony Parker-like touch on his soft floater in the lane over Gobert in the first period. True to his usual form, he followed that with a brutish layup in traffic shortly after. Keldon started the second half action with a lefty layup over Gobert that would have made Manu proud.
- Devin’s Deeds: The rookie nimbly broke up a lob attempt for Gobert at the rim in the first half. Late in the fourth, Vassell executed a “show-me” fake in the post and a fadeaway jumper.
- Gobert’s recent contract extension averages out to $41 million per year through 2026. With a quick glance into the Spurs’ current salary commitments, the outlay to Dejounte Murray, White (pre-extension), Keldon Johnson, Jakob Poeltl, Trey Lyles, Lonnie Walker IV, Devin Vassell, and Drew Eubanks comes out to approximately $41.9M. The next few seasons will be a (granted a simplistic) referendum on what is the better means of building a defense: surrounding an all-time stopper around the rim with average defenders (Utah) or putting out a bevy of potentially solid-to-great perimeter defensive guys (San Antonio).
- San Antonio came out of the gates tentatively on offense and the Jazz were able to get whatever they wanted in the halfcourt. DeRozan and Johnson helped keep the home team within shouting distance but each Spurs make seemed to invoke an open three from the Jazz in response. Utah’s scalding 6-for-11 shooting from three allowed them to leave the quarter up double digits.
- Reserve Jordan Clarkson continued his success against his hometown team - no matter what uniform he wears apparently - hitting on his first three shots. The only thing that appeared to stop Bojan Bogdanovic this half was a twisted ankle as he netted an easy 12 points. Johnson proved to be the only Spur able to counter Utah’s energy throughout the second period, including a steal and a Westbrook-esque breakaway jam. The Spurs rode a wave of defensive intensity to trim the lead to single digits. Utah continued its pressure at both ends to make it a 65-51 at the half.
- Pop must have ordered the starters to go at the teeth of the Utah defense, and the Spurs were able to find some success early on in the third period. Bogdanovic, however, continued to splinter the nets - pushing the advantage to 20. Bill Land quipped “You’re surprised when the three DOESN’T go in” as Bogdanovic nailed yet another jumper. Johnson seemed intent on not letting his teammates’ hopes wane and attacked the rim relentlessly. The period expired mercifully with San Antonio down by 22.
- The futility of the evening summed up in one sequence: Murray attempted a half-hearted post-up and turnaround jumper on Gobert (9” taller), which was blocked. Murray than took Gobert (still 9” taller) out to the 3-point line for a stepback jumper... which was also blocked. The extended tiempo be basura did supply rookie Tre Jones and Luka Samanic a chunk of playing time. Jones converted an acrobatic and-1 and putback and was unselfish with the ball. Samanic connected on a three late in the game.
- Music Selection of the Night: A winless homestand encapsulated here.
For the Jazz fans’ perspective, visit SLC Dunk.
The Spurs head out west to start a five game road trip with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night at 9:00 PM CDT.