UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Lose Game Of Scoring Runs To Spurs

Feb 22, 2020, 2:36 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – All it took was one big scoring run for San Antonio to take down the Utah Jazz 113-104 in the first game back from the NBA All-Star break. The Jazz blamed it on a lack of effort and a soft defense. But you can also credit Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for never letting the Jazz get momentum.

With 7:28 left in the 2nd quarter, Rudy Gobert made a nice little 4-foot flip shot on a fast break to cut the Spurs lead to 44-32. Popovich didn’t waste any time and quickly called a timeout. His team had not scored in over a minute and he did not want to allow Utah to heat up.

The move seemed to backfire.

Bojan Bogdanovic made two 3-pointers and Donovan Mitchell threw down a right-hand hammer dunk as part of a 10-2 Utah run after the timeout which cut San Antonio’s advantage to 46-42.

Popovich hurried and called another timeout at the 5:27 mark. But this time the tactic seemed to work.

The Spurs went on on a 21-2 run that started with a Dejounte Murray jumper and ended with Murray’s sneaky steal and bucket.

The sloppy play seemed to perturb Coach Quin Snyder enough for him to call timeout. It was his first during the stretch.

“Even when you have a run like (we had), you have to sustain it,” said Snyder. “Particularly, just when you’re down as much as we were. You can’t afford to have you know, any lapses. We put…our backs against the wall…really from the beginning of the game. And again, I think it starts on the defensive end with having more resolve.”

Popovich continued to play puppet master with Utah’s momentum with the use of his timeouts. He took a quick break less than one-minute into the 3rd quarter after Donovan Mitchell’s 3-pointer had cut San Antonio’s lead to 65-51.

Pop laid into his team, screaming at them almost the entire timeout. He even stood up and pointed and yelled at LaMarcus Aldridge. But at the end of his speech, the Spurs players were clapping and ready to return to the floor. The message was received and Utah’ momentum was halted after a 6-0 San Antonio run.

The Jazz looked to have one more run in them to get back into the game thanks to Emmanuel Mudiay.

The reserve guard, who was seeing more playing time due to Mike Conley’s third straight game off, scored 7 points during Utah’s 9-3 run to start the 4th quarter. San Antonio’s lead had been cut to 12 and Coach Popovich called time out again. The Spurs restored order, going on their own 6-2 run to quell any momentum.

Mudiay played well, scoring 18 points, dishing out 3 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. He also looked like he started to wear down by turning the ball over late in the game and not being able to hit some key shots that could have cut San Antonio’s lead to single digits. But Mudiay was most ticked off that the Jazz defense was so weak. He said they lacked physicality.

“They kinda was getting any shots that they wanted,” Mudiay stated. “We knew they wanted the mid-range shot. So we should have just been a lot more aggressive and…at least get hits a little bit. We played soft as a team, that’s all of us.”

Donovan Mitchel was cool and calm in the locker room, but he showed frustration during the game after he was stripped going to the basket and then slammed his hands down on the court. The All-Star guard did not have an All-Star type of game, scoring 12 points and only shooting 5-14 from the field. He said his team didn’t bring it.

“I think that’s the case where you just can’t have that,” said Mitchell. “I think that we as a collective group we weren’t all on the same page….There’s little things we can fix. Just stuff that we can control and I think that’s what makes it hurt more.”

Mitchell was was relieved that they didn’t have to wait long to find their defensive groove. But Utah will have to bring it against James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the Rockets Saturday night Salt Lake. The duo is averaging 62.2 points a game and the Rockets are averaging 118 points a game as a team.

If Utah wants to be a serious contender, they’ll have to turn it around quickly.

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