Once again, the Jazz showed why they’re the best team in the Western Conference and also why the Spurs are struggling to hold onto the 10th place play-in spot, as they routed the Silver and Black in a game that was never close. The Spurs were in this game for about the first 8 or 9 minutes of the first quarter, but they once again fell victim to an extended offensive drought as the Jazz went on a 17-0 run that spanned the first and second quarter. The game was out of reach after that, but Popovich played a lineup of young players and rookies, and guys like Tre Jones and Luka Samanic got extended minutes and made some plays, showing that they probably should have been playing more all along.
The Spurs are looking at their most important game of the year coming up on Friday, as they face the Sacramento Kings and need a win to break their 5 game losing streak and hold on to their narrowing lead over the New Orleans Pelicans. At this point, it’s even possible for the Kings to catch up, so San Antonio will need some more wins to sniff the post-season this year. Friday night would be a good time to start.
- With Ingles and Bogdanovic, the Jazz may have the best all male pattern baldness duo in the league. Both of those guys move really well without the ball, and they were able to score easily with minimal resistance from the Spurs defense.
- The Spurs offense looked better to start this game, but the defense stunk in the first quarter, allowing the Jazz to shoot 70% with wide open looks almost every time down the floor. It finally broke open with a 17 point run spanning the end of the first and start of the second as the Jazz went to put the game away early.
- Jordan Clarkson has so much in his game, it’s a shame he has never been on the Spurs. He absolutely carved up the Spurs defense tonight, except for that one time that DrewBanks blocked his dunk attempt.
- Drew Eubanks is shooting 100% from three this season (2-2). Secret weapon. He also had a very nice block to erase a Jordan Clarkson dunk in the second quarter.
- Luka Samanic should play more. He had trouble finishing at the rim against Gobert, but so did everyone else in the Fiesta uniforms. He really looks like he’s starting to figure things out, and he has flashes of really good play. His effort level is off the charts, which is a huge change from his rookie year, where he would sometimes look like he accidentally wandered onto the court. He led the Spurs with 15 points tonight, which might have been the first time he’s led the team in scoring in his career.
- Drew Eubanks needs to just start hoisting three point shots on every possession. He’s shooting 100% for his career. It’s just science.
The Jazz came out to a quick start scoring the first 5 points, started off with a pretty Georges Niang triple, and the Spurs answered with 6 of their own with Dejounte, DeMar and Keldon getting into the action. It was a back and forth battle but when the Jazz reserves entered the game, they got a boost from Trent Forrest and Jordan Clarkson to rush out to an 8 point lead. The Spurs have some bench firepower of their own, and Lonnie Walker IV did his best to keep the Silver and black in it, but the Jazz finished on a hot streak and the Spurs went cold, with the Jazz leading 38-26 after one quarter.
As the second quarter began, Joe Ingles took over, as he went on an 8-0 solo run to run the lead to 20. Even when the Spurs hustled to the ball, the Jazz outworked them and turned the hustle into mismatches and easy baskets. After Gobert stretched the lead to 22, Popovich decided the Spurs needed a timeout. That couldn’t stop the onslaught as the Jazz poured it on, and Pop finally went to a lineup with younger players and Luka Samanic, Keita Bates Diop and Tre Jones and the young guys played with intensity, and kept the lead from ballooning even higher, as the Jazz led 66-42 at the half.
The Spurs came out of the locker room with a 4-0 run, which led to a quick Jazz timeout. Quin Snyder wasn’t taking any chances with a 20 point lead. They quickly erased the Spurs good feelings with a 10-0 Jazz run, for their largest lead of the game at 30. The rout was on, and it wasn’t pretty for the guys wearing Silver and Black. Pop put the green lineup back in, and even though they couldn’t cut into the lead, they competed. But the Jazz offense was in perfect synch and didn’t miss a beat as they led 100-63 after three.
The Spurs went with a full youth movement in the final quarter, and they played hard, but the effortless scoring of the Jazz kept game well out of reach. It was still great to see guys like Tre Jones get some extended run and make some plays. Both teams put in their deep benches for most of the quarter as the Jazz lead ballooned to near 40 points, but this was a learning experience for the young players as they played hard and made the most of their time on the court. Tre Jone had some nice drives to the basket, and Devin Vassell definitely is starting to look more comfortable on the court, and hopefully that will pay dividends in the remaining games of the season.
Here we are again, playing the Jazz in Salt Lake City.
What’s Next . . .
For the Jazz fans perspective, visit SLC Dunk.
The Spurs have a night off before they go to Sacramento on Friday night to play the Kings, who still have a shot at the 10th place play-in spot. The Spurs are on a 5 game losing streak, and they are going to have to win some games to make it to the play-in, and Friday’s game is starting to look like it’s one they are going to have to get.