The Score, the Key Stat, the Bottom Line: Jazz Rout Spurs, 109-83The Utah Jazz convincingly silenced any talk that the San Antonio Spurs would sweep them but still face an uphill battle to win the Western Conference Finals.
The Score: Utah 109, San Antonio 83
The Key Stat: The Jazz outscored the Spurs 66-36 in the second half. Tim Duncan finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and eight turnovers, snapping his streak of 11 straight 20 point/10 rebound playoff games. He only played 26 minutes, picking up his fourth foul at the 5:44 mark in the third quarter with Utah leading just 62-60. Duncan scored five points after that, perhaps becoming a bit tentative. The only Spur who played well was Tony Parker (25 points, seven assists).
The Bottom Line: The Jazz have been a strong team at home throughout the 2007 playoffs but whether they win their home games by six or 26 they still have to win at least one game in San Antonio to take the series. Teams leading 2-0 in the Conference Finals (as the Spurs did before this game) have gone 55-2, so the odds are still against the Jazz turning things completely around. Still, other than the first half of Game One the Spurs have yet to find an answer for Utah point guard Deron Williams (31 points, eight assists, five steals); Carlos Boozer has also played well since early in Game One (27 points, 12 rebounds). Those two players combined to shoot 22-38 from the field (.579) and if the Spurs have to focus more on stopping them then opportunities will open up for other players. Andrei Kirilenko was missing in action (0-2 shooting, two points, two rebounds) but Derek Fisher, Gordan Giricek, Matt Harpring and Paul Millsap all made solid contributions.
The best news for the Spurs is that the old adage still holds true that they don't start the next game down by 26 points. The score was 75-69 Utah early in the fourth quarter, so the game really only got out of hand late. Look for a much closer contest in Game Four and don't be surprised if the Spurs go back to San Antonio with a 3-1 lead.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:30 AM