What is the antonym of loudness? The answer is silence.
If loudness was the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday evening, then Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs were the antonym in the building as they silenced the Jazz with a 102-90 victory to put Utah on the brink of elimination.
Tim Duncan (17 points) simmered down the noise in the arena early by starting the game with his own 6-0 run. The Jazz responded by making some new defensive adjustments for Parker. The Jazz first put forward Gordon Hayward on Parker, and also forced Parker to take outside jump shots. Devin Harris, who had been a non-factor in the series, came out with full aggression as he scored 12 points in the first quarter. The Spurs led 30-28 after one.
In the second quarter, the Jazz got some scoring off the bench as Alec Burks (11 points) and Derrick Favors (15 points) helped Utah take the lead in the second quarter, by slowing down the tempo. The Spurs played sloppy in the first half as they went into halftime with eight turnovers. Matt Bonner would score his only points of the game with a buzzer beating three pointer to send the Spurs into halftime, with a slim 52-50 lead.
In the third quarter, Harris continued to get his work done with a quick six points. As a counter to prevent Harris from scoring, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich decided to put Danny Green (14 points) on Harris. Not only did Green make scoring tougher for Harris, but he contributed on offense with nine points in the third quarter. When the game was tied at 60 with 5:07 remaining in the third, the Spurs went on their second 6-0 run of the game to take a 66-60 lead. The Spurs’ momentum would carry them to another 9-2 run to go ahead by 10 points late in the quarter, as the Spurs eventually took a 75-68 lead into the final quarter.
The Spurs behind Tiago Splitter (10 points) started the fourth quarter with another 6-0 run. The Jazz would go on an 8-0 run to cut the Spurs’ lead to five, but Stephen Jackson (13 points) would stop the Jazz’ comeback as the Spurs went on a 9-2 run to go up by 12 points with 5:31 remaining. From there, the fourth quarter became the “Tony Parker show” as Parker scored 16 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter by knocking down the open jumpers the Jazz dared him to take, hitting free throw shots, and continuing to drive into the lane. Parker would lead the Spurs to their third consecutive playoff win by double-digits, and their 13th straight win in a row.
Aside from Parker leading the team in scoring, the Spurs had another efficient night as a team as they had five players score in double figures, collected 21 assists (10 of those belonging to Manu Ginobili), and the team shot 49% in the game. After turning the ball over heavily in the first half, the Spurs turned the ball over just three times through the rest of the game. The Jazz could only sustain slowing down the pace in the second quarter, but the Spurs would continue to push the tempo as they outscored the Jazz 22-9 in fast break points. Harris (21 points) and Jefferson (21 points) both showed up in the game, but the Jazz still didn’t have enough firepower to keep pace with the Spurs as Hayward and Millsap struggled.
The Jazz put together their best performance on Saturday, and it still wasn’t enough to lose even by single digits. The Spurs will be looking to close the series out on Monday in game four in Salt Lake City.