San Antonio Spurs 111, Utah Jazz 102: Meh

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AT&T CENTER — In a game that felt like it really didn’t matter all that much, there were a few noticeable things that happened. Tim Duncan sat out another fourth quarter, Indiana George got real aggressive and dunked on somebody and Richard Jefferson had his first 20-point game since November.

But according to Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, Tiago Splitter was the story of the Spurs’ 111-102 win over the Jazz.

Why do I say according to Coach Pop? Because when he was asked after the game about Jefferson’s first 20-point game in a while, he made sure to talk plenty about Splitter too.

“I thought [Jefferson] and Tiago were both really aggressive,” Coach Pop said. “Tiago just that blue collar, steel worker sort of attitude. It’s like he’s right out of a steel mill; been working in there all his life and he knows what it’s like to work.

“He’s unbelievable.”

For as much as Coach Pop likes to give the press folks a hard time, Pop’s a pretty media savvy guy. He knows that he can use it as a tool to send messages to his players. After today’s game, he tried to craft the message that Splitter was performing well.

Though Splitter may not play a lot in the playoffs this year, Pop is trying to let him know that he’s appreciated and keep his spirits up heading into next season.

With the win, the Spurs move closer to locking up home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Spurs have already clinched home court in the Western Conference.

It was interesting after the game when Richard Jefferson was asked about the benefits of clinching home court in the West early and RJ specifically mentioned the Lakers, and how they have the ability to win in San Antonio, while the Spurs can win in Los Angeles.

We all like to talk about clinching the number one seed and how it’s nice for the Spurs to have home court advantage against the Lakers, but it’s not everyday you hear the players making the same connections. Basically, it was refreshing to hear someone else thinking ahead like the rest of us.

But before we get to that point, the Spurs and Lakers still have two rounds of playoffs to play. And the rules say they have to win both of those rounds in order to meet in the Western Conference Finals (Although side note: depending on how the next few days play out, the Spurs and Lakers could be scheduled to meet in the second round).

The Spurs don’t yet know who they will face in the first round of the playoffs, but their potential matchups were all in town getting a look at the silver and black. Portland, New Orleans and Memphis all had scouts at the game watching the Spurs in preparation for a possible first round matchup.

  • ty

    Spurs okc la dallas would be best, but very doubtful..

    Dorrel wright has made like 200 3pts this year glad we extended RJ for 30 or 40 mill….

  • ty

    On a different note does anyone know anything about that little asian lady that sits 2 seats down from Jack?????? I’ve read her name may be Yori and has been seen getting in a mercedes maybach
    Someone at 48MOH please ask your buddies in L.A who she is

  • Bob

    Splitter’s ability to draw fouls helps even if he misses the free throws. He’ll force the opponent in to the penalty earlier. We have starters that can take advantage of that. On the second unit there aren’t that many players that can take advantage of that. One disadvantage of McDyess jump-shooting is he doesn’t draw fouls that well. Splitter would put more pressure on the opposing bigs. If they have extra fouls they’ll either have to risk getting another foul or being less aggressive on defense.

  • idahospur

    For some reason, I have this feeling that if we make it through the 2nd round, we win the WCF and make it to the Finals and bring home the title. I don’t know if I’m thinking of recent history or whatever but I think the Lakers in the 2 or 3 for a potential WCF is what we should hope for.
    Pop: Rest Duncan, Parker, Manu, and Dice.
    Play: Splitter a lot, Hill, RJ, Blair, Bonner, and whoever else wears a jersey that night.

  • Bruno

    @idahospur

    100% agree, the last thing Spurs want now is injuries. But everybody travel, so probably they will play

  • http://readramblerant.blogspot.com Humberto

    I’m curious as to the style the Spurs will ultimately play when in the playoffs? Can they revert to a defensive minded type of team if they have to? My only fear is that the Spurs fall in love with the 3pt line so much, they shoot themselves out of a game.

  • Bruno

    @Humberto
    Spurs isn’t the Suns, Manu will not shot 7 3 pointers/game in playoffs. We saw a preview of Manu shooting 3 against Utah(0-0, because no one was wide open).
    I think defense will be better(but not so much better), because Timmy/Dice will play 60 minutes combined and the other bigs just 36.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Bry

    I would def prefer that the Lakers end up with the 2nd or 3rd seed. By not playing the vets the Spurs can see which bench players do well against the Lakers, rest their stars, and probably make sure that the Lakers do not drop to the #4 seed.
    I agree about the divisions as well. The Lakers go over the cap by tens of millions, and have everybody else in their conference sub .500. Chicago does have a weak conference, but Milwaukee’s record is a bit of a surprise.
    You want the Lakers to have a tough first-round series (preferably Portland, but even Memphis would be brutal for them). Gasol’s little bro plays him well. You want to get N.O. and make sure that the Fakers don’t luck out and play the only team in the playoffs whose leading scorer is out for the season. Then you want them playing Dallas or OKC in the 2nd round. Another brutal series. I don’t see the Lakers being able to run the table if they are going 1st rd Portland, 2nd rd Dallas, 3rd rd San Antonio. They are too old and inconsistent to pull that off this year, nevermind who comes out of the East.

  • Nima K.

    The more I look at our team this season, the more I realize how sorely we miss a player like Bruce Bowen.

  • Judd

    Question: Would we be playing the Hornets right now if the season ended last night? They have the same record as Memphis, and doesn’t Memphis owns the series 3-2? I would assume this is the case, but every standing i’ve checked has Memphis listed as the 8th, and I keep seeing “playoff matchups” breakdowns that also still have us playing Memphis. Can’t wait to beat LA and boot them to the 3rd or even 4th seed!

  • Melbourne Spur

    NOs division record has them ahead of Memphis, with a series split between them I think. Memphis would need to finish with a better record, which means they probably have to beat Portland.

  • Judd

    I would love to see the lakers fall, just because i hate them with such a passion, and am so sick of hearing the press giving no one else a shot at representing the west. That being said, no one wants to play memphis in the 1st round. it’s not only that they will probably win a few games, but they go for every steal, foul constantly and generally beat people up. I won’t hate to see the lakers face them in round 1 and take a few on the chin. but portland matches up well against the lakers too. and if they lose both games (not impossible) they could get the 4th seed and face denver again. things are looking great for the spurs and bad for la right now. I still think we need to play our boys, win both games and secure the best record in the league. chicago looks awesome and could be there in the finals. so could we!

  • http://www.theorangerock@blogspot.com therealkman

    Lakers lost again. Spurs should rest their starters and Play Tiago/Blair/Green/Neal and Hill. If they beat the Lakers with that line-up it will only boost the team’s moral and demoralize the Lakers who would probably drop to the four seed and be our second round opponent. If the Spurs lose with their reserves on the court it would leave the Lakers at the 2 or 3 seed facing Dallas in the second round.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    Melbourne Spur
    April 11th, 2011 at 4:09 am
    NOs division record has them ahead of Memphis, with a series split between them I think. Memphis would need to finish with a better record, which means they probably have to beat Portland.

    If Portland loses that game, than they will be in the 8th slot. NO has the tiebreaker over Portland too. NO needs to lose at least one of it’s final two games. The good news: They play DAL in the finale and Dallas will probably have something to play for.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    Nima K.
    April 10th, 2011 at 10:39 pm
    The more I look at our team this season, the more I realize how sorely we miss a player like Bruce Bowen.

    I am sure everyone would agree that we miss Bowen’s defense but RJ has taken away the loss of that corner 3 that BB took with him into retirement.

    RJ busting loose for 20 against Utah had to do wonders for his confidence!

    The only thing that did not transpire over the season that I would have loved to have seen are just things:

    For the Spurs to have taken a flyer on Dorrell Wright and been fortunate enough to sign Corey Brewer……other than that, I am extremely pleased with how the Spurs have done to date and the moves that they made.

    I mean, come on, Splitter as a Spur, Gary Neal as a Spur and their contributions and a glimpse of the bright future the Spurs have with both of those guys going forward makes it fun to be a Spurs fan!

    I am so looking forward to the 2011 NBA Playoffs and seeing our Spurs churn and burn!

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    Meant to say “2 things”

  • Alain

    every time i see splitter i think he gets better. he was just useless earlier in the year, but he has progressed. one question though, how is he out of shape this far into the season? i know he doesnt play a whole lot, but isnt there something he could be doing outside of the games to get conditioned? out of shape is just not a viable excuse this time of year (barring injury, of course).

  • mrliksternow

    If we could pick ” manu ginobilis” every second round, WE WOULD BE AMAZING!!!!!!! HAHAHAHHA.(That’s my crazy mad scientist laugh) We could use a 28 year old manu right about now. Alas we only have one.

  • http://espn.com texasj

    bunch of my buddies were pretty upset that we didnt get brewer and rightfully so. he wouldve been a nice young piece, but i think we got a player that “can be” equally as good as he is. you can call me crazy or whatever, but i think in a couple years Da’sean butler is going to be a pretty damn good player. i know he messed his knee up in college, but i think if he can tread on healthy waters he will be the biggest surprise signing of the year. was a great signing. low risk potentially high reward.

  • Bob

    It’s unfortunate James Anderson was never worked back into the rotation. He could really have helped the second unit defensively. Hill/Neal is a kind of small backcourt so it forces Manu to play the backup 3.

    I think Spurs should focus on winning remaining two games. If they are serious about winning it all they want all the advantages they can get. This has nothing to do with the Lakers and all about the Spurs. They are not playing championship level defense and they’re going to need every advantage they can get to win it all. Spurs may get away with bad defense for the first round but beyond that I think it will really become a factor.

    Last time they won it all in ’07 that Suns series was pretty close. If Amare/Diaw had not been suspended there’s no telling what would have happened.

  • SAJKinBigD

    I’d love to see the Lakers booted in the First Round, but I SERIOUSLY doubt that’d ever happen. HOWEVER, I’m thinking I’d prefer to face the Lakers in the Second Round, after they’ve had a tough and tiring First Round series. In the WCF, they’d have had time to get their rhythms back and rolling. I’d prefer to catch them before they get all their bravado and bluster back.
    But that’s just me.
    To be completely honest, I don’t care whom the Silver & Black faces or when – they have to win 16 games for the O’Brien regardless of opponent!

  • MSteele

    Manu should take notice of Durant last night, he made quick moves on Artest and didn’t allow him to get set on D.

    OKC is a scary good team but I think we could beat them in a 7 game series. LAL are a really good team but if you can take Lamar Odom out of his game they are beatable. OKC showed that you have to get out and run at every opportunity to not allow their D to set up and thus get easy scores.

    Anyone talking Corey Brewer first of all we made him an offer, Dallas made a bigger one. Shows he wanted money rather than anything else. Secondly he makes bonehead plays and for all his ‘potential’, he has not really improved since he came into the league.

    GS offered more money to Wright and we couldn’t compete because we spent money on Tiago. We never had a chance.

  • Bruno

    @MSteele
    OKC didn’t have a good matchup against Spurs, their problem is : Ibaka, Sefalosha, Perkins are poor offensive players.
    Durant, Westbrook, Harden score 85% of their points, they have ZERO chance to beat Spurs 100% health with HCA.
    About Brewer, he isn’t that good, his team wouldn’t give up him if he was so good

  • Mark B

    Spurs weren’t able to give Brewer as much money as the Mavs were able to offer him, so they were never really in the running. Brewer hasn’t been able to get any minutes for the Mavs, so I’m not sure he’s that good, anyway. Or maybe it’s just that Carlisle hasn’t been able to get him up to speed in half a season. Probably a combination of the two.

  • DBAGuy

    I think the entire team traveled because we may have to play the game to win.

    The one good thing is that the Bulls play the Knicks earlier than the Spurs/Lakers game. If the bulls lose, then we don’t have to battle the Lakers, but we must beat the Suns on Wednesday. I think Pop will wait and see the outcome of the Bulls game and then determine who will play.

    A bulls loss would be great, we get to rest, the Lakers get to keep 2nd seed and we retain HCA throughout playoffs with a win against the Suns.

    Lets hope the Knicks play them well, as they also don’t want to fall below Philly and are on a 7 game winning streak of their own.

  • Titletown99030507d

    To turn attention to the other side I’ve been checking out some of the Bulls games lately and I want somebody’s thoughts on who the hell can stop, slow down, cover, Derrick Rose from our team if we were to meet them in the finals. He’s the achilles heel for that team. He goes and the team goes.

  • DBAGuy

    I think the key with Rose are blocks, we need help defenders to meet in at the glass, yes he can make jump shots, but he is most dangerous with layups. We need to play man-up defense in your face – you can’t move defense, lol

  • DorieStreet

    Although game was much closer than I thought it would be (didn’t watch the teleast), Bulls came out a winner @ Magic. I still say they win out–just don’t think the Knicks can pull off a victory, even if it’s their regular season finale. And even with the Bulls, last game being a BTB–it’s at home vs Nets.

    So the Spurs will have to win out to have HCA through the finals IMO.

  • Colin

    Brewer wouldn’t have done much for us.

    Why do the topics of some posts always focus on players we don’t have and think would be the answer?

    What if Gary Neal and Splitter weren’t in Spurs uniforms? Would all of a sudden they be the answer who could fill roles for us?

    Oh wait, they are.

  • DorieStreet

    @Titletown99030507d

    Make Rose work very hard on defense. Eliminate 1 or 2 of the Bulls other scorers–Deng especially. When on offense-go at Boozer. Spurs bench has to outplay Bulls’ reserves.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @DBAGuy, DorieStreet,

    Thanks for the insight. That dude scares me if we were to play them and he does have a legit supporting cast. But we have firepower as well and Timmy is no slouch so it would be a good series.

  • Mark B

    The Chicago/Orlando game was about .1 second from overtime. That’s how long the ball was in Jameer Nelson’s fingers after the horn sounded when he released it and it flew through the net. I think if a Howard-less Magic can match the Bulls, the Spurs should have no trouble.

  • Bruno

    Information on twitter:
    IraHeatBeat Ira Winderman
    by JMcDonald_SAEN
    “Wow, NBA reveals with all tiebreakers coming up even, if Bulls, Spurs tie for best W-L, random drawing would determine home court in Finals.”

  • jwalt

    rob — and thank you for your sane comments all year. Enjoyed reading all you had to offer.

    To everyone who wants anyone we don’t have (with my buddy TD Best Ever being the ring leader), remember this, all players look better when they play somewhere else. Once you get them, you realize why they were available. Best example? Corey Brewer. He looks athletic as hell but when he’s on your team you can’t get around all the really dumb mistakes he makes. Next best? Try Anthony Randolph. He also is super athletic but is a living, breathing brain fart on the court. Pop and any other good coach has no time for such nonsense.

    Enjoy the playoffs. I think the Spurs have a 1 in 3 chance of going all the way. I hope I’m wrong by 67 percent.

  • Bob

    @Titletown99030507d
    I’ll go with the team that plays the most defense. Chicago plays great defense. I am not sure the Spurs can do that yet. I don’t think offense would cut it in Spurs vs Bulls. Bulls are not going to leave 3 point shooters wide open. They’ll need to be ready to shoot with little time. Spurs will have to rely more on penetration and post ups. In two games against him, Spurs have done nothing to slow Rose.

  • Nima K.

    I think if we succeed in round 1&2, and have no injuries, we’ll make it out of the west.

    But that’s a big if. Both OKC and MEM are physical, grinding, and not afraid of slamming an elbow into Manu’s (or whoever else’s) face.

  • ZAKP

    The talking heads have got me fed up with their belief that the lakers are the team to beat in the west, and are the favorites to win the nba finals. For the record, iam not predicting,iam stating that the lakers as well as boston will not be in the nba finals this year. There is a web page called NBA.com with a link to the history of the nba finals.
    A page the talkings heads don’t visit. There you will find that only three teams in nba history went to the finals four or more years in a row. The first is the Bill Russell led Boston Celtics.They played ten straight years, missed a year and then played two more. Winning the first, losing the second, then winning eight straight, then they missed a year , and then won two more. Then the teams played under 70 games a year, however that doesn’t in any way take from that run. With the inception of the 82 game season only 2 teams, the Lakers with Magic and Kareem and Boston with Larry Bird managed to reach the nba finals 4 straight years. The lakers did it from 81 to 84 playing philly twice and then boston twice.They won,lost,lost,won. Boston did it from
    83 to 86 they played lakers twice,houston, and the lakers again.They won.lost,won,and lost. Both had four starters that averaged 20 points a game. No big three or big two but a big four. The next team to go 3 years in a row was MJ and chicago. After 3 win in a row i was sure that they would win 4 straight, and maybe make a run at
    a 8peat. But then MJ pretended to try to play baseball.
    I say pretended because in less than a month of joining the team he bought his own team bus. While the talking heads attached no importance to this deed. I knew that it said that MJ wasn’t trying to be a part of that baseball team. So now my question was why not win four in a row, I didnt understand, it didn’t make any sense.Then MJ came back and won 3 more. I was now sure he could win a fourth, for i felt that he had an even better team,because of Rodman. Then he pretended to retire
    only to come back a year later proving that he hadn’t had enought. So again the question, why not win four in a row. Did MJ know something i didn’t? I say MJ didn’t think it could be done by a big 2 so he found a way to avoid that losing the fourth year. While i know that many would disagree, that how i see it.
    The next team to go 3 years in a row is the lakers with Shaq,Kobe, and the always clutch big shot Bob,
    which i feel was a superior team to either of MJ’s teams
    because of Robert Horry. They however only had a big 2. They lost the next year to the Spurs. The present lakers have played 3 years straight, which equals 4 seasons worth of games. They have been running on fumes all year. Fear and adrenaline after the allstar game got them going. But adrenaline only last for so long. The 3 overtime game against Phoenix said it all.
    How was they able to hang that long when they have played so unevenly all year. And now this losing streak at the end. This isn’t last year all over again. Last year they didn’t look tired all year long. The same goes for Boston, because their second year they went to the conference finals, so they have played only 7 less games than the lakers. The lakers have a big 2 and Boston have a big 3. Neither is enought to go a fourth time. Boston performance this year is showing the effects of 4 seasons worth of games in three years. I think they will fall before the conference finals.

  • Flavor

    Respect other teams, but never fear. Spurs won the season series against OKC 3 to 1. I don’t think the addition of Perkins puts them over the hump.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    The Thunder are getting too much respect. They haven’t ever won a playoff series for goodness sakes. They are a very young & talented team that has the potential to be dominate in the years to come but they still have a lot to prove.

  • MSteele

    @Len
    Yea well thats a fair point about the Thunder but the Bulls haven’t won a playoff series either and they’re being considered contenders. To be honest I think both have an opportunity to win a title but I can’t really look further than Boston, LA or SAS.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    As much as it really pains me to say; The Heat are a legitimate title contender. If their bench, especially their “big man by committee” plays as well as they did against Boston, they will be a very tough out.

  • Nima K.

    One step closer to having NOLA set at #8.

    If only MEM beats Portland tomorrow, we’ll be even closer.

  • Rafael

    @Len Agree. But can they beat a health Boston Celtics in 2nd round and a young Chicago Bulls in Conference Finals?

  • andy

    honestly, does anyone else think the fight has gone out of boston? maybe they become galvanized in the postseason, but the celtics i’ve seen after the perkins trade just don’t seem to have the same swagger, the same “we will pound you into submission” aura to them. i almost feel that it’s to the point at which i wouldn’t consider them title contenders anymore. i really think miami has passed them in more than just the standings.

  • Easy B

    NBA Trivia for all interested:
    (remember or note what you answer to each question)

    which eastern conference playoff team is playing at their ceiling?
    which eastern conference playoff team has had key big men banged up and a fatigued back court?
    which eastern conference team has the best team defence?
    which eastern conference team has the best crunch time, perimeter defense?
    which western conference team has the best small forward?
    which western conference team has the deepest roster?
    which western conference team has the best 4th quarter defense?
    which 4 western conference players are the biggest playoff wildcards?
    which western conference team has the highest defensive upside in the playoffs?

    Answers: (in order of questions, based on my opinion, not data).

    chicago
    boston
    boston
    miami
    portland- will accept LA
    Denver – will accept SA
    LA
    Brandon Roy, Gary Neal, James Harden, Wilson Chandler
    San Antonio- will accept LA

  • Tim in Surrey

    Regarding Rose – I think the best thing to do is to make him a jump shooter. Just let him shoot all day, whether he’s making them or not. Even if he’s hot, he’ll shoot his way out of it and, more to the point, he won’t get his teammates involved. Do your best to keep Chicago off the offensive boards and close down any penetration.

    But that’s not the trick with Chicago. People have been doing that all year (which is why a lot of people really don’t think Rose should be the MVP). The trick with Chicago is answering the question “How do WE score against THEM?” Find the answer to that and you’ve solved the problem of the Bulls.

    In all seriousness, though, I’m not that worried about them. They’re very good, especially on defense, and they have a lot of guys who will come through under pressure (Noah, Deng, Rose, Gibson, etc.) But so much of their success this year has been built on their remarkable depth, which just isn’t as much of a factor in the playoffs when there’s less travel and more time to rest. Frankly I think they’ll have trouble with Miami, Boston, and possibly even Orlando. But I’ve been wrong many times…

  • Easy B

    My point about these questions is that I still think it is down to SA, LA, Bos and Miami to decide it this year, though Chicago has a chance, just not sure they can elevate more than they are currently, and Orlando could be dangerous, but they seem to be missing that x factor, whilst OKC, Dallas, Denver and Portland have enough talent…they all seem short of 1 or both of the following:
    defense
    execution

  • Melbourne Spur

    Easy B….. what are you smokin’? If the best small forward in the West is Durant, who for LA or Portland is? Artest and a legless Roy?

  • Melbourne Spur

    *isn’t Durant

  • Mark B

    I think the Thunder became a serious contender when they got Perkins. The team hasn’t won any playoff series, but Perkins has won a few. Can one player make a team a championship contender? I think he can if the team already has talented players who are also finishers. IMO, Durant is the best offensive player in the NBA right now.

    I think OKC can beat anyone in the west. I don’t know if they will, but I’d rank them 3rd after LA and SA. I’m kinding assuming LA will straighten themselves out after the horrible finish to the season. LA’s biggest weakness is that Kobe ball hogs at the end of games and takes the ball away from the other talented players on the team.

    SA has no glaring weaknesses, but they don’t have as much length as LA. OKC has no weaknesses, except for the lack of experience. SA is still my pick to win the west, but I wouldn’t be surprised if either one of the others wins.

    You notice I didn’t mention Dallas. IMO, they’re done. They don’t have enough talent and poise to win the west. If they do, I’ll eat a Mavericks hat at center court. Dirk is great, but not enough talent around him.