For the better part of four quarters, the Utah Jazz successfully denied the San Antonio Spurs chances to create shots anywhere other than the mid-range, despite facing one of the league’s best mid-range shooting teams.
On Monday night, Utah defeated San Antonio 110-99 in large part by denying the Spurs scoring opportunities at the rim and on the perimeter. San Antonio’s first layup came in the final minute of the second quarter, and the Spurs missed all seven 3-point attempts before halftime.
“We tried to make them earn everything they got,” center Rudy Gobert said.
Gobert had 24 points and 15 rebounds while leading the defensive effort that helped Utah lead from start to finish. The Jazz won their second game in a row thanks to effective offense and tough defense. Utah scored 22 points off 13 turnovers by San Antonio and shot 50 percent from the field.
“It’s really important to us to get off to a good start,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “If it means making plays off our defense and getting easy opportunities, that’s even better.”
With 25 points, Bojan Bogdanovic led the offense. The Jazz were led by Jordan Clarkson, who scored 16 points. Joe Ingles scored 13 points and dished out eight assists.
The Spurs, who have now lost four straight games, were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 22 points and Rudy Gay’s 17 points.
“We got to figure out a way to come Wednesday ready to compete, because that second half we competed really well with them,” said guard Dejounte Murray, who finished with 15 points. “I think we competed way more than we did in the first half — starting with myself.”
The Jazz scored on five consecutive possessions late in the first quarter to take a 26-16 lead. Clarkson and Bogdanovic each hit back-to-back three-pointers to help Utah build a double-digit lead.
In the second quarter, Gay’s jumper cut the San Antonio lead to 40-35. That was the closest the Spurs came before Utah heated up again. The Jazz went on a 17-4 run after scoring on six consecutive possessions. Bogdanovic started the run with back-to-back baskets and capped it with a 3-pointer to give Utah a 57-39 lead.
“When we play that way it’s really hard for the other team to play us because we have so many weapons,” Gobert said.
After repeatedly settling for mid-range shots, the Spurs struggled to keep up with the Jazz. Mid-range shots accounted for 19 of San Antonio’s 20 first-half baskets.
“Poor first half, really good second half,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We’ve kind of had that personality for a lot of the year.”
The Jazz led by as many as 25 points in the second half, taking a 74-49 lead in the third quarter after Joe Ingles capped a 13-2 run with a 3-pointer.
On Wednesday, Utah and San Antonio will square off again.