With the sting of April’s first-round playoff sweep still fresh on everyone’s minds, the Utah Jazz did an admirable job in erasing an early large lead by the San Antonio Spurs. Their dramatic comeback fell short, however, as the Spurs ended up defeating the Jazz 110-100.
The game started out in eerily familiar fashion: San Antonio seemingly scoring at ease, thanks to flawless execution, superb defense and solid teamwork. Meanwhile, Utah was again out of sync, settling for an unsettling amount of perimeter shots.
Then Mo Williams and Paul Millsap put in stellar third-quarter performances, allowing the visiting Jazz to knot things up a few times. In the end, it was not enough. The Spurs showed why they are again championship contenders, but Utah displayed fight and effort.
Throwing a Ball in a Lake: San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich has been consistently excellent for many years. With him at the helm, few teams have shown the offensive unity and prowess the Spurs do, with Saturday evening providing further evidence.
The first half was a textbook example of how to dominate a game at both ends of the court. While the Spurs played their traditional, sneaky, and cerebral defense, it was their offense that was the story of the game. Led by swingman Danny Green, San Antonio shot an incredible 74.3 percent as a team in the first half.
They cooled down quite a lot in the second half, but they ended up shooting 42 of 74 from the field — 56.8 percent. Add in 7 of 13 from downtown (53.8 percent) and 19 of 23 from the free-throw line (82.6 percent) to the equation and you have an offensive juggernaut.
Green was 8 of 9, while sophomore Kawhi Leonard was a perfect 5 of 5.
‘Mo Mo: When the offseason deal was consummated, bringing Mo Williams back to Utah, both Williams and the front office were ecstatic. Saturday was a prime reason why both should continue to be thrilled this trade occurred.
In a pulsating third quarter, the Jazz’s new starting point guard threw in 15 points and two assists, including a remarkable 1:10 stanza where he scored nine points, leading Utah to a 79-79 tie at the end of three quarters. His jump shot was deadly, as were his forays to the hoop.
When it was all said and done, Mo tallied 29 points (9-of-13 field-goals, 2 of 2 on 3-pointers, and 9 of 9 from the charity stripe), while adding nine assists and two steals.
- Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin made some noticeable adjustments as his squad was getting blown out. Instead of going to what has been his regular substitution pattern, he mixed things up by sticking with the hot-handed Mo Williams in the fourth quarter. He also left small forward DeMarre Carroll on the bench in favor of Marvin Williams and Gordon Hayward.
- Spurs star Manu Ginobili made his season debut, finishing the game with eight points.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.