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Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Score, the Key Stat, the Bottom Line: Jazz Rout Spurs, 109-83

The 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



At Sunday, May 27, 2007 12:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i thought that utah was going to win tonight if they win the next game then it becomes really intresting they seem to be very comfortable at home there very good i think san antonio will win the sreies but the game was good

At Sunday, May 27, 2007 3:20:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I'm not sure that San Antonio fans agree that the game was good :)

If you are rooting for Utah or just want a competitive series, though, this is better than a 3-0 series in which the Jazz would be dead men walking. Utah may very well win Game Four--certainly, a lot of things point toward that result--but I suspect that the Spurs will escape with a close decision.

At Sunday, May 27, 2007 7:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, what did you think of the final minutes, when Deron Williams got leveled by the Matt Bonner backpick?

Just before it happened, I was thinking that Sloan shouldn't have him in there with such a big lead. Bonner's pick was legal, but I wouldn't exactly call it clean. Williams had been shooting 3s even after the Spurs scrubs came it, so it wouldn't surprise me if the Spurs decided to line up the kid for a good shot.

At Sunday, May 27, 2007 8:34:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

In light of all the stuff about the Spurs being a "dirty" team I was surprised that someone in the media didn't make a bigger deal out of the play; I know that the Jazz won't say anything because Sloan won't allow his team to be whiners, unlike the Spurs' previous opponent (the Spurs and Jazz are "no excuse teams," as Mike Brown and LeBron James aptly described the Cavaliers).

It's a fine line about when to remove frontline players from the game. Obviously, you don't want to lose but beyond that you also don't want to take guys out too early and let the opponent make enough of a run to perhaps build some momentum/confidence for the next game. I didn't think that Williams was in the game too late when the back pick happened.

I don't think that the pick was dirty; it just seemed that Williams caught the contact in an awkward way. It was kind of borderline, though, which has seemed to be the case with a few Spurs' plays this year (most of them involving Bowen). Sloan's offense has used such picks for years and Stockton set as hard of a pick as anyone. He nailed big guys in the kidneys/lower back often. Remember when Barkley once said that if Stockton did that again he'd break his arm? Some of the people interviewing him laughed but Barkley gruffly said, "I'm serious" (or something to that effect). If Nash and the Suns think that the Spurs are "dirty" then they would have been driven to tears by Stockton and Malone or the Bad Boys Pistons.


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