El Conclusion: Utah Jazz 91, San Antonio Spurs 84

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San Antonio Spurs 84 Final

Recap | Box Score

91 Utah Jazz
Stephen Jackson, SG 32 MIN | 2-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -15Stephen Jackson has been a valuable contributor as a secondary playmaker, operating on the periphery of the defense’s focus. In that role the inefficiencies that can creep up in Jackson’s game, especially as age sets in, are muted and his aggressiveness is a net positive. Without the benefit of attacking a rotating defense, Jackson shot 2-13 with three turnovers.
Boris Diaw, PF 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -6Boris Diaw isn’t going to fill up the stat box most nights. His primary value lies in his intelligent floor game. That floor game becomes less valuable, and his faults more glaring, sans the Big Three, when the Spurs need more of a difference maker than just a facilitator.
DeJuan Blair, F 22 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -4DeJuan Blair appears to operate best in chaos, which is never more apparent than nights the Spurs rest their primary shot creators. Blair came out early and set a tone that unfortunately could not be sustained. After a strong first quarter it’s hard to remember an impactful moment from Blair.
Daniel Green, G 35 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -8Brought energy and was able to generate 11 shots, most of which were good looks. Unfortunately for Danny Green, like so many of the Spurs shots, the ball just could not find the bottom of the net. Appreciate the effort, lament the inability to convert for a night, and chalk it up to a night where shots just wouldn’t fall.
Patrick Mills, PG 24 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | 0As a point guard, Mills isn’t proving any more or less capable of running the halfcourt offense than Gary Neal. He is fast, and manages to push the pace a little more. But his average ball handling prevents him from harnessing the full potential of his physical gifts when not in the open court. He can, however, space the floor. And while he can be a liability on the defensive end due to his size, he can be a pest when he extends his defense.
Matt Bonner, PF 27 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | 0Matt Bonner simply came to work and did his job. Bonner played his role, hit open shots, and battled defensively. Some might point to Bonner when it comes to the 50-38 rebounding advantage, and they would do so with bias. If Matt Bonner is having his best year, it’s because he’s also been put in an appropriate role. Minus Tim Duncan, the Spurs stretch the limits of his overall effectiveness.
Gary Neal, PG 29 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 14 PTS | -4Inefficient, but hit big shots and created others. On a night when the Spurs lacked that ability, there is some value in that. Neal had five assists, but his passing ability has always been somewhat underrated. It’s creating the passing lanes from the point guard position that he can struggle with. Tough matchup with the speedy Devin Harris.
Tiago Splitter, C 26 MIN | 5-8 FG | 4-5 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -3The younger Jazz big men would do well to watch Tiago Splitter and the patience and footwork he displays on offense. The words be quick but don’t hurry come to mind. Splitter was a presence, and would have delivered the play of the night with a beautiful behind the back pass to Danny Green in the fourth quarter, had Green not fallen victim to one of the Jazz 12 blocks on the night.
Kawhi Leonard, SF 26 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | +5I appreciate games like this where Kawhi Leonard can stretch his game a little bit. Running the pick and roll and creating his own shot are all outside his comfort zone for the moment, and he will not be asked to do so come playoff time. But it will be good for him to get a little experience here as the Spurs rest players over this gruesome stretch of games.

Four Things We Saw

  1. The Spurs are deep and versatile, and the system operates as a safety blanket of sorts, hiding their flaws and accentuating strengths. But without the Big Three, each of the players are asked to reach a little beyond the limits of their games. They performed admirably, but sorely need the Big Three to settle the offense and execute in the fourth quarter.
  2. The Jazz shot 33 free throw attempts to the Spurs 10. Make what you want of it. Devin Harris is really fast and penalized the Spurs big men for sloppy hedging on screens. Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors are physical beasts that put defenders in bad situations. Minus their stars, the Spurs rely on finding open spacing and simply lack the ability to draw fouls.
  3. I really like the way Popovich juggles the lineup when resting players, keeping guys in their respective roles and lineup combinations as much as possible. Of course, this was not something he could do even a year ago. It’s easier to look good in these situations when you have such a deep, versatile roster.
  4. The Jazz bigger lineups gave the Spurs fits on the glass, but it’s something the Spurs should be able to exploit heavily with Parker and Ginobili should the two teams meet in the first round.
  • Deeds130

    These kind of nights are to be expected from Jackson. I would love to know how he thinks about such performances. I would think he’d find it unacceptable, and adjust his shot selection. But since his inefficiency is a hallmark of his game, he obviously is thinking about it (or not thinking about it) differently than I’d imagine. What I’d really love is to hear a conversation between him and Popovich about it.

    On another note, I don’t mind sitting guys, but I hope we’ve seen the last of all big 3 sitting out together. I don’t think it’s as instructive to the team, with so many variables operating at once. That said the last 2 games of the season could also be these kind of wild scrimmages.

  • Chromao

    I am really concerned about the next two games. The Lakers and Grizzlies’ froncourt length poses serious trouble to the Spurs.  If we sustain the 2nd seed, I believe that we would not have difficulty in dispatching Houston or Phoenix or Denver or Utah in the 1st round, and I would say that we match fairly well against Clippers and Thunder. However, both Lakers and Grizzlies are clearly our worst matchups come playoff time.  

  • sam

    i don’t think the team played bad ,   including jackson.    true he was 2 for 13, but he wasn’t playing in his role.  without the big 3,  other teams can afford to stay with shooters and not clog the paint.        some of his shots were wide open , but just he didn’t make them.    i think the team was 7 for 24 from 3′s  ,  and alot of those shots were wide open.     if we made our season average 39 %   , the result would have different.
    also for free throw difference,    i don’t like to complain  ,but they called for a foul everytime a jazz player was touched,  but nothing the other way around.     i don’t think it would have mattered much ,   we lost because we didn’t make our shots.   

    i hope pop doesn’t rest the big 3 together in one game again.   honestly we need at least one play maker present on floor to win games.   especially in the 4th quarter ,    we just needed someone to stabilize the offense and make a shot .         I am with resting players but not our 3 best players on same night.     this games would have been an easy win .

  • sam

    i don’t think the team played bad ,   including jackson.    true he was 2 for 13, but he wasn’t playing in his role.  without the big 3,  other teams can afford to stay with shooters and not clog the paint.        some of his shots were wide open , but just he didn’t make them.    i think the team was 7 for 24 from 3′s  ,  and alot of those shots were wide open.     if we made our season average 39 %   , the result would have different.
    also for free throw difference,    i don’t like to complain  ,but they called for a foul everytime a jazz player was touched,  but nothing the other way around.     i don’t think it would have mattered much ,   we lost because we didn’t make our shots.   

    i hope pop doesn’t rest the big 3 together in one game again.   honestly we need at least one play maker present on floor to win games.   especially in the 4th quarter ,    we just needed someone to stabilize the offense and make a shot .         I am with resting players but not our 3 best players on same night.     this games would have been an easy win .

  • ananuri

    I was not really happy by loosing this game. I think we should try to have home court advantage throughout the playoffs. I understand that we beat OKC in their place, but it might be a very difficult deed to repeat inplayoffs, and we don not want to just advance deep in the playoffs – we want to win the whole thing. With home court, I’m pretty sure we will beat OKC, and we will get a very good chance against Bulls or Heat.  As finals are set, team with no HCA should win two on the road (because it is very difficult to beat good team three times in a row), and Heat is very good at home, while I’m pretty sure we can take them with HCA. Also, it seems that Grizzlies may end up as a third seed, and we really do not want to meet them in west semis, and have OKC waiting in the WCF with HCA.

    Concerning Grizzlies and lakers, despite their size, I think that we can take them, lakers being the easier opponent. Their defense is very vulnerable to penetrations, which Parker and Ginobili should provide this in spades. And Lakers are awful outside of LA – I watched Suns game and 4th quarter of NO game, and they seemed very beatable.  Bynum cannot last on the court 40 minutes, and if he does, he gets so tired, that becomes almost useless. Grizzlies concern me more, but overall, we are better team, and I do not think Gazol will make every shot as he did last year (and even that might not help them this year, if our three are healthy. And if they are not, it is a moot point anyway).

    So, obviously health is very important, but you can do only so much about that, and HCA is almost as important this year. I would have rested Manu and played Jackson in the first game, and have Manu available for the second (or Parker). We just needed one playmaker / finisher to win yesterdays game.

    And please, don’t point the fact that Pop knows better than I do – of course he does, that’s why he is the best coach in basketball (no matter how many rings Phil Jackson has), but nobody is perfect, and we could have won yesterday’s game with a slightly better planning.

  • DorieStreet

    With nearly all the teams’ games being interconference matchups down the stretch, I’m going ahead and assume the Spurs’ road to the finals will be tough. The way Memphis is playing, I think they will overtake both Los Angeles teams to get the third seed (their last 10 opponents: PHO, SA, UTA, NO twice, MINN, CHA, POR, CLE, ORL),
    And just resign yourself to the Spurs playing the Mavs in the first round.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Botello/1090077751 ‘Joseph Botello

     

    Stephen Jackson

    @DaTrillStak5

    Sorry fans I played like sh*t. I owe y’all one. Gotta play better.

     

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Botello/1090077751 ‘Joseph Botello
  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WBPW327T6XAZCCFQY25HBG6RE4 Cristian

    The rest was needed because LAL and MEM are coming in town on consecutive nights. We’ll definitely play one of them in the 2nd round and all 3 of them know it. MEM is finally at full strength, Kobe has been resting, all 3 teams want to see were they stack up. 
    Concerning the Utah loss, I was more upset it will be harder to win 50 games now, than dropping back to #2 seed. As long we are tied in the loss column with OKC, we have the tie-breaker. I care more about having a better record than MIA or CHI, or both, because they own the tie-breaker against us. But there’s hope there because they still play each other twice, and still have another few tough games left, Rose seems to be injured again. 
    We need HCA more in the Finals mostly because of the 2-3-2 format. I believe we can take OKC even without HCA.

  • theghostofjh

    From Blair grade summary:

    “Blair came out early and set a tone that unfortunately could not be sustained. After a strong first quarter it’s hard to remember an impactful moment from Blair.”

    It’s hard to be “impactful” when sitting on the bench (virtually the entire second quarter, when he was hot — and Blair got a whopping and divided 10 minutes after the 1st quarter). Unfortunately, our two most productive players last night (Blair, Splitter) play the same position. But the fact is, I disagree that the two should virtually never play together, and last night’s game was a perfect example. Without Duncan, we needed rebounding and inside scoring against a fairly large and talented Jazz front line. Blair & Splitter are by far our best options/match-ups in this regard. And particularly since our perimeter shooting was obviously way off the mark last night, these two should have been paired for a good 8 minutes together, in both the 2nd and 4th quarters, probably with some combination of our three best play makers/shooters from the active roster (Neal, Mills, Jackson, Diaw, Green).

    Look, I know all the arguments against this strategy (improper spacing, blah, blah, blah), but the fact is, if you’re shooting 40% (30% from three), and you’re getting hammered on the glass by a double digit deficit (all else being equal), you’re simply not going to be in position to win a game. The only reason we were fairly close at the end is because the Jazz made too many careless turnovers (18, at a minus 4).

  • DorieStreet

    Well, the Spurs play the Lakers 3 times in the next 10 days, so the team will have ample opportunity to figure out what works best against them.

  • sdedalus83

    Everything came together to make this game perfect for leaving the three best players at home.  Never before and never again will any team face an away game on the second night of a home and home back to back which is also the third in 4, the middle of 4 in 5, coming in the middle of 11 in 16, during a 16 in 24 final stretch.  Everybody else on the team is flying back in the early morning, losing an hour in the process, to face an LA/Memphis back to back on one day of rest.

    Through the last 11 games, expect one or 2 guys to rest every night and 1 or 2 to not play anywhere near their normal minutes, all as part of keeping a few guys completely fresh for every game.

  • theghostofjh

    Solid post. I agree with much of it. Though I’m torn about the big three sitting out together for this one. It may have very well been the right move. We still could have, and should have won that game last night. As I alluded to above, I didn’t like some of Pop’s rotations under the circumstances. IMO, we should have experimented more with a Blair/Splitter pairing for limited minutes.

  • theghostofjh

    Good guess, but still too early to tell.

  • neverthehero

    I really couldn’t agree more. Pop perhaps was a little to clever. 

  • Lvmainman

    I believe that Pop will bench the big 3 on the 17th @ Lakers, in the middle of the back-back-back. Especially since Pop did it last year.

  • theghostofjh

    If we have an interest in a top seed, I would not do that. If we need to rest them again, we should do it one at a time, and I would rest Manu for the middle LA game, and then play the three of them as lightly as possible in the easier bookend games.

  • Jimbo

    I would have tried to win the game in UT and then rested the Big 3 in one of the upcoming games.  Oh well.  I agree the Grizzlies will be a very tough match up for the Spurs if it comes to that.

  • TD BestEVER

     I’m glad there are still a few people who watch Spurs games that can be OBJECTIVE about Blair…….. POP totally screwed Blair up last night with his Rotations and should have let him play late…..Blair also showed that he can be a dominate rebounder and that the only reason his numbers are down is because he plays next to TD and doesn’t challenge TD for more boards……..

    Ghost it looks like its just the few of us………….

  • TD BestEVER

    I swear you guys must watch games from Tiago’s or Bonner’s basement…….
    I love how Bonner get a “did his job” from Jesse but Blair gets a didn’t
    make an impact after the 1st.   Splitter gets a “was a presence, and
    almost delivered the play of the night.”  Lets be real……the pass was
    nice, but there were better passes thrown that game. The KL ally-opp
    comes to mind.  And what exactly did he do in the game to make him a
    Presence…….. he scored a few baskets, grabbed a few rebounds, but
    didn’t Blair do those same things.  They both scored in the post on more
    than one occasion, they were both on the boards. The only thing Tiago
    did better was block 2 shots………. And that gives him a “Presence”
    in a game where the Jazz were blocking shots left and right.  Including
    some nasty ones on Splitter/Blair………

    Just another weak attempt to use your own BIAS vs Blair and to pub up your boys Splitter/Bonner…………

  • Titletown99030507d

    Mavs are the other team I would hate to see in the first round. Just because they always get up for us.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Against the Lakers they definitely don’t need to throw undersized bigs at them. I still feel they should have given Splitter 25-30 minutes every time he was able to suit up this entire season. He just wasn’t given enough time on the court to really take to the next level. There’s more from him but they way pop has handled his minutes it’s not enough now at this point. Too late. This dude is gassed at the 19 minute mark. 

  • Titletown99030507d

    Actually Pop should have kept Blair in after that short sub in the fourth and taken Bonner out when Splitter was on the court in the fourth. Bonner wasn’t hitting any thing at the arc in crucial minutes and Blair could have gotten some rebounds for us or better yet Split and Blair could have worked the PNR with the guards. He’s getting better at it. 

  • Titletown99030507d

    I saw the game last night as well and I do have to say in this game with TD out and Bonner wasn’t hitting jack late in the game Blair should have stayed in with Splitter to finish off the game. I was surprised to see him yanked after 30 secs coming on to the floor in the fourth. Weird. One thing I want to know why is it that the guards overlook Blair when Blair is calling for the ball down low? I noticed this with Splitter but they do it more to Blair. The guards seem to pass it only if they are wide open and have no one within miles of them. Last night would have been an opportune  time to see what the two of them could do together on the court. 

  • Titletown99030507d

    Chill TDBE that’s probably the last time you’ll see Splitter play 26 minutes. He wasn’t exactly a wussy last night but I get what your saying.

  • TD BestEVER

     I’m not knocking Splitter….I’m knocking Jesse for drooling at the mouth every time Splitter does something well, and at the same time, he keeps looking for reasons to put Blair down….or to take a little luster off his accomplishments……..

    Blair/Splitter should have finished that game last night and we might have won it……

  • TD BestEVER

    It’s called poor court awareness…….. I don’t mind you not giving DJB too many ISO’s….especially if we are at full strength and our offense is clicking………But last night we weren’t and it wasn’t and they still didn’t give him much in the 2nd half……. The same goes for Splitter…….they both should have taken 12-15 shots last night…….We should have just kept milking the hot hands

  • Deeds130

    I couldn’t agree more. There are plenty of opportunites to rest our stars down the stretch. Just don’t do it all at once! Pop has GIVEN AWAY 3 or 4 games this season. Enough already! To think we could have had home court versus MIA in the Finals… that would definitely make a difference. And OKC is still getting better, they’ll be a very tough out.

  • Avilaplana93

    i have doubts about Diaw and Jackson come playoff time. Diaw is a solid player but can’t play D without fouling. Jackson has look out of shape and with terrible shot selection. Hopefully Jackson will play best when it matters most (opposite to RJ). Although i am criticizing Jack a little bit here, at least he brings aggressiveness and tries to make plays instead of just deferring. Another thing, I just can’t understand why, when the offense is strugling like last night, the spurs don’t go to tiago more. They  had to wait until the last three minutes of the game to feed tiago an he made the right play every time, that;s a whole lot better than forcing contested jumpers. I’m not saying feed him the ball like timmy, but it’s ridiculous the last two games he got only like two post feeds. 

  • Avilaplana93

    i completely agree, it’s stupid to keep choosing one over the other. For the spurs to win in the playoffs both have to combine for 20 points and 12 rebounds. 

  • http://twitter.com/nudityJ Nudity J. Fandango

    I’ve shouted long and hard about the positional issue with regard to Tiago & Dejaun.  Both play the same position and kill each others minutes.

    That said last night was probably the best matchup we’ll see all season for playing the two together.  The Utah front lines not a pick and pop group of guys.

    The only mitigating factor would be that from the substitution flow it looked like Pop wanted to keep people in similar roles and groups.  He seemed to keep the patterns he’d normally use and seemed intent on keeping his major rotation guys minutes as low as possible especially the front line.
    Utah/Utah/LA/Memphis is four games worth of absolutely monster front lines.  With 11 games in 15 days I think your going to see Pop limiting minutes of all the rotation guys across the board.

  • Deeds130

    Yessir. When the game is ugly, go get easy baskets!!! My least favorite thing in BB is when teams ignore their offensive bigmen in the last six minutes, when they are virtually guaranteed to get quick shots within 6 feet of the hoop, in favor perimeter jumpers. I hate that.

  • http://twitter.com/nudityJ Nudity J. Fandango

    yeah they needed to go to those guys all fourth quarter.  

    I also think that they will not do that this season.  Pops priorities are definitely all about getting the team to run a system as strongly as possible by the playoffs.

    I’m pretty sure he thinks the win/loss ratio from here on in is irrelevant.  There is no easy path through the west this year, health and ability to work the sets would have to be his mantra.

    I’d like to see more DJB & Tiago, I do think that Pops got a lot better perspective on things though.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I agree. On the offensive end Splitter could have drawn attention while Blair would be able to slip into the lane for some quick buckets.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I second that. It’s frustrating to see 3 dudes chucking up bricks at the arc and not even think about the elephant stampeding to the water hole.

  • Titletown99030507d

    You give Splitter 25 minutes and tell the guards to feed him and you’ll get your 20 points guaronteeeed. He can go after 7 rebounds as well. I’ve said this before this dude needs to play long stretches he just that kind of player. If you noticed he starts to really get in a rhythm  the more he plays. Oh well.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Tell that to Green, Neal, Jackson, and Bonner when they not hitting. I see that too. I wonder if there’s a cut off number between all those guys until they say “ok screw it lets go inside we’re not on tonight. If there is it’s pretty high.

  • Titletown99030507d

    If Blair and Splitter play the same position then why does Splitter always wait for Timmy to come out before he sees any of the floor. Blair is the starting center what does that make Timmy a PF? Does that make Taigo a PF? Or is he a PF/C and he goes in for Timmy regardless of what Blair does? Because if both Splitter and Blair play the same position then why doesn’t Splitter come in for Blair. I don’t think it’s the “title” of what they post on the lineup Splitter will not ever see time with Timmy. Is there a reason for that?

  • DorieStreet

    Some fans will beat me up for this rehash—but FO has to rethink this Euro draft & stash thing this point forward. Think of what Splitter could have been if we had not sat on him 3 seasons after picking him in 2007?  The injuries during summer camp/preseason and during the 2010-11 campaign, then the lockout.  Spurs fans won’t see Tiago’s full game until Tim’s game has diminished some more with another year. Hopefully the Spurs get on an agressive and accelerated timetable in getting a strong frontcourt presence in the next 2 seasons.

  • theghostofjh

    Thanks for pointing out the favoritism. It’s so true, and it’s not just Jesse.

  • theghostofjh

    Blair actually is the same way.

  • DorieStreet

    ESPN reporting Bryant will not play Wednesday night—won’t believe it until I see it. But 6 of their final 8 games are against playoff-bound teams. I could see LAL sliding to 4th or 5th spot before the season ends.

  • DorieStreet

    OKC has 9 games left – 2 home, then a 5-game road trip, then finishing with 2 at home. But they have 1 game each with MIN & PHX and 3 with SAC. Might have been interesting if Spurs kept the percentage point lead by winning last night. But it looks as if 2nd spot is secure with 7 wins out of remaining 11 games.

  • theghostofjh

    TD is more PF with Blair, more center with Bonner. For example, Bonner plays stretch PF, and comes in for Blair, and TD then plays more center. Tiago then comes in & plays center for TD. These pairings represent the best balance between what each player is capable of on both offense and defense. Splitter doesn’t play with TD because it’s not a good fit, AND he can be matched effectively with the relatively weak inside play of Bonner, because he plays better position low post defense than Blair, and he has a height advantage.

  • LPspursFan

    imo, we’ve already secured no worse than the No. 2 seed and still have a shot at overtaking OKC for the No.1…that being said, No. 1 seed is nice, but if last year taught us anything it was that health trumps seeding

    i don’t even think last night’s loss hurts our chances at the top seed all that much…if OKC wins out (9-0 to reach 51-15) well then we have to win out (11-0)  which wins us the No. 1 seed due to owning the tiebreaker

    OKC plays the next 2 games at home (vs. Clips and Kings) and then has 5 straight road games over an 8-day span, including at Clips, Lakers and Minny; imo, they’re NOT going 9-0…i can see them going 7-2 and us going 9-2 and both finishing with the same 49-17 record, whereby we win the No. 1 seed

    i agree that I would rather see Pop stagger the off nights for the Big 3 so we always have 2 of them, but I think he had a method to his madness last night…can’t quite say I know what it is, but I’m sure there was planning and reasoning beyond what we might be conscious of that went into Pop’s decision

    I still think this team, with the additions of Boris, Patty and Jax, the rookie contributions from Kawhi, the second-year-improved play from Neal, Green and Splitter, that we have what it takes to win No. 5…and I’m not really even overly concerned over what teams we face; i think we can beat any team out there in a 7-game series

    Go Spurs!

  • DorieStreet

    If Spurs hang 3 losses on them along with Mavs and Thunder winning their games.

  • theghostofjh

    Yup, that was my main point.

  • theghostofjh

    Yes, not to mention the two of them crashing the boards.

  • theghostofjh

    Yes, agreed.

  • theghostofjh

    Yes, but never getting Odom to commit really hurts them. And of course, Odom is now officially out for the duration.