The San Antonio Spurs were feeling good Monday night after sweeping their first-round Western Conference series with the Utah Jazz.
They also were feeling some pain.
”I’m sore,” said reserve Stephen Jackson, who played 26 minutes in the down-to-the wire 87-81 victory. ”Those guys play hard.”
Fortunately, the Spurs are going to get some rest before the next round.
San Antonio awaits the winner of the Grizzlies-Clippers series, which may not be decided until Sunday. The Clippers lead 3-1 after winning 101-97 in overtime on Monday night…
Star sixth man Manu Ginobili hit consecutive 3-pointers after the Jazz had pulled within 61-58 late in the third quarter. And after the Jazz rallied from 21 down to get within four on Al Jefferson’s put-back in the final minute, Ginobili turned a steal by MVP candidate Tony Parker into a layup that sealed the win.
”I wasn’t making many shots, but I wasn’t taking that many either,” said Ginobili, who was 0 for 8 from 3-point range in the first three games but had three 3s Monday and finished with a team-high 17 points…
Parker had 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting Monday, Duncan added 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting, and starters Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Danny Green combined for a total of eight points. The Spurs’ bench picked up the slack, outscoring Utah’s reserves 57-10 and finishing with 27 more points than their own starters.
– Reported by Lynn DeBruin of the Associated Press
Ginobili had 17 points to spearhead a 57-10 edge for the Spurs’ bench and help overcome the first mediocre nights of the playoffs from Parker (11 points, 4 of 14) and Tim Duncan (11 points, three blocks).
Ginobili hit his first three 3-pointers of the series during a 15-0 second-half run that helped the Spurs build a 21-point lead with 6:17 to go.
At that point, Utah center Al Jefferson seemed a prophet. Maybe somebody could beat the Spurs, but it wouldn’t be the Jazz.
Then, with the Spurs’ key players on the bench — presumably to be mothballed until the second round — Utah sprang to life.
Jefferson finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Paul Millsap had 10 and 19. Derrick Favors, shifted into the starting lineup as Utah coach Ty Corbin opted to go jumbo, had 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
“They junked it up,” Duncan said. “They got real physical and real active, and found a way to make plays and get back into the game.”
– Reported by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News
The Jazz started with a big lineup because Corbin hoped putting 6-10 Favors in with 6-8 Millsap and 6-10 Jefferson would give Utah an inside advantage on offense and defense against the Spurs.
But Utah sputtered out of the gates again, only scoring 19 points in the first quarter. A 21-3 Spurs run, reminiscent of the killer 20-0 surge San Antonio had in the 31-point Game 2 blowout, helped the deep and deadly visitors go into the locker room with a 50-42 lead.
Jefferson scored a couple of baskets in a row for the Jazz in the middle of the second half, but there was a big problem between those two makes. Namely, Utah suffered through dry spell that lasted eight minutes and nine seconds, during which Ginobili hit three 3-pointers and scored 10 points in a 15-0 Spurs run.
San Antonio stretched that lead to 21 before Utah dug deep one last time. Even that last lineup was reflective of the Jazz’s season makeup, considering it included veterans-trying-to-prove-themselves in Jefferson, Millsap and Devin Harris, a young up-and-comer in 20-year-old Favors and a player trying to find his way in the league in DeMarre Carroll, who was picked up in February after Denver waived him.
– Reported by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News