Story of Two Halves for the San Antonio Spurs Ends Bad in Utah, 118-102

Jeremy Sochan led the San Antonio Spurs in scoring against the Utah Jazz, but came up short.
February 25, 2023, Salt Lake City, UT: San Antonio Spurs forward Jeremy Sochan talks to Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen during the second quarter against the Utah Jazz at Grand American Hotel in Salt Law City, Utah Saturday, February 25, 2023. (Photo by Reginald Thomas II/San Antonio Spurs)

Before the season started, both the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs were projected to finish near the bottom of the NBA standings. With just more than 20 games left to go, that’s exactly where the Spurs (14-47) find themselves while the Jazz (31-31) are looking to stay in the mix. In Utah for the final games of the Rodeo Road Trip, San Antonio nearly showed they could hang with one of the better teams this season, but collapsed in the second half. The Spurs lost 118-102, extending their franchise-record losing streak to 16 games.

Utah’s bigs proved to be a mismatch for the Spurs, but not quite to the extent that one might have anticipated. All-Star Lauri Markkanen led all scorers with 27 points, overcoming a slow start to finish strong.  The Jazz’s Walker Kessler was a force on the defensive end, pulling down a game-high 12 total rebounds. He also blocked five shots, just one less than San Antonio recorded as a team. For the Spurs, Jeremy Sochan was the only player to score more than 20 points, recording 22 while shooting 44 percent from the floor.

Story of Two Halves for the San Antonio Spurs

In the opening minutes of the game Saturday night, it looked like the Spurs might run the Jazz out of their own house. San Antonio jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the first three minutes as Utah looked sloppy and the Spurs took advantage. They were able to protect that lead for the remainder of the first half, largely by limiting the Jazz from beyond the arc (23 percent) while excelling from the perimeter themselves (44 percent). By halftime, four Spurs had already scored double-digits, while Kris Dunn was the only one to do so for Utah with 11 points off the bench.

The second half was a completely different story for the Spurs who went 0-9 from three-point range in the third quarter, tanking their shooting percentage. Utah outscored the visitors 30-14, helping them take a lead that they never relinquished. The fourth quarter was mostly the same with the shooting struggles for San Antonio who remained ice-cold from deep while Markkanen was anything but. He connected on all three of his three-point attempts, scoring 14 points and putting the game away.

Some nights it just isn’t your night, but looking at the last two losses, the Spurs appear to have a second-half problem. In both the losses to the Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks this week, solid shooting performances in the first half of the game dropped off steeply after halftime. This hasn’t been the case for the rest of the season and could be just a temporary phenomenon. Nonetheless, it will be something to monitor when Utah and San Antonio meet again on Tuesday to close out the Rodeo Road Trip.

Up Next for the Spurs

After nearly a month away from the AT&T Center, what’s a couple of more days? The Spurs will hang out in Utah before meeting with the Jazz again on Tuesday in Salt Lake City. After Saturday night’s loss, the season series is tied at 1-1, and San Antonio is desperate to taste victory again. Factoring in the lack of traveling before their next game, the Spurs could be in a good position to end the road trip with a win before returning to the Alamo City. Tip-off on Tuesday is at 8 p.m. CT.

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