Going into Friday’s matchup with the Utah Jazz, the San Antonio Spurs had been scoring an average of 107 points per game in their last three games. The Jazz meanwhile came in dead-last in the Western Conference but if you watched what ensued for the first three quarters in Salt Lake City, you’d have thought the Jazz were the team coming in with a six-game winning streak.
The Jazz came out jumping on the Spurs with at one time, a 15-point lead. San Antonio could not put the ball in the basket as they were held to just 16 points in the first, while defensively they allowed Utah to score 29 points on them.
In the second quarter San Antonio sort of looked like a glimpse of the Spurs as they sharpened up defensively holding Utah to 17 points, while offensively they were at least able to score 25 points. One of the sparks in the first half was Boris Diaw, who went into halftime having scoring 10 points and had only missed one shot (5-of-6). On the other side, Derrick Favors was having his way in the paint as he went into the half with 10 points and 15 rebounds. The boards were an issue early, as Utah outrebounded San Antonio 31-19 in that first half.
After the half, the Spurs looked like they reverted back to the first quarter-low scoring version of themselves as they turned the ball over nine times in the quarter, and going into the fourth quarter, they had only scored 19 points in the third and found themselves down seven points as they entered the final quarter. And then Tony Parker happened.
One thing Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich usually doesn’t do in a regular season game is start a fourth quarter with a majority of his starters. He usually waits midway through the quarter for his starters to rest and then finish the game. Friday however, the message was clear, ‘go finish the game now.’ Though it wasn’t an official message, Parker and the group entering the fourth quarter looked like they understood the message.
The Spurs came out blazing in the fourth with a quick 12-2 run. Danny Green, who had only scored two in the first three quarters, nailed two quick fire 3-pointers while Parker had his way with the Jazz defense scoring 14 of his 22 points in the fourth. When the buzzer was seconds from ringing, there were the Spurs holding a 10-point lead as the ticker rang they defeated the Jazz 91-82, having their best quarter of the night in the fourth as they outscored Utah 31-15.
Asked after the game by Sean Elliot asked Parker if the Spurs were looking ahead to a long break during the game, where they won’t resume play until next Wednesday against Boston, and Parker said “maybe.”
Tim Duncan had a bounce-back game from his previous 1-of-12 shooting night as he finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Diaw scored a season high as he finished with 17 points and five rebounds.
The Spurs are now on a seven-game winning streak and hold the best record in the Western Conference at 9-1 through the first 10 games of the season. Overall in the NBA, San Antonio is just second to the Indiana Pacers, who are the only remaining undefeated team at 9-0.