Game 4: San Antonio at Utah
That was predictable. The Spurs cruised through 3 quarters tonight behind Manu Ginobili’s just-discovered jump shot, some hard-nosed defense and Utah’s awful shooting (save Jefferson). After not hitting a single 3-pointer all series (this is how deep and good the Spurs are), Ginobili hit 3 in the the second half. The last of his 3’s, at around 9 minutes left in the 4th, pushed the Spurs lead to 14 and it jumped to 18 with 7 minutes remaining. Game over.
Except not quite. I’ll hand the Jazz this, they fought back and didn’t let the Spurs get another easy win; although, it was probably pretty easy—all things considered. An Al Jefferson layup with 46 seconds left cut the Spurs lead to 4. After a Parker miss, the Jazz squandered their last chance when Tony Parker intercepted the ball from Paul Millsap and hit Ginobili for the series-clinching lay-in with 18 seconds left. It was free throws from then on and the Spurs are back in Western Conference Semifinals after last year’s sabbatical.
This game was ugly. Ugly if you enjoy top-notch offensive basketball; my father probably loved it. Neither team really found their rhythm offensively, and Manu didn’t come on for San Antonio until the second half. Al Jefferson actually shot an incredible 13/19 to lead the Jazz with 26 points (I’m telling you, Jefferson can handle Duncan no problem, so look for this in the later rounds—particularly if Memphis advances past LA and Duncan has to match up against Z-Bo).
Unfortunately, the Jazz didn’t get the ball to Jefferson enough, and the rest of their team struggled. I’m pretty sure Gordon Haywood was ill-prepared for the NBA’s playoff intensity. He was 0 for 7 from the field and scored 0 points in 25 minutes tonight. This after going 1 for 10 in game 3.
Since there was little offense for either team, and because Utah failed to win a single game in the series, here’s a couple blocks from the Jazz. Including an impressive block from Devin Harris as he swooped in behind Tony Parker to swipe the ball just before it hit the backboard.
The Spurs are avancing and there will be the requisite nobody believed in the Spurs set of stories until they face the Clippers or Grizzlies. They’re title contenders for sure (and have been since the season started) and I doubt any team—except a firing on all cylinders Oklahoma City group—will slow them down. Winning this series in 4 games just means more rest for the already fresh group of veterans (Pop has been a master at controlling the substitutions to get his big three lots of rest).
In the last two months, going back until March 6th, the Spurs have lost only 4 games. That’s more than 2 months with only 4 losses. The Western Conference better be ready for this methodical team that forms like Voltron and dealt with the Jazz in robotic fashion.Dan Antonio’s playing at an incredible level right now, and they have been for quite some time.
Popovich might need to practice his “You did the best you could” speech and pat on the arm, like the one he had with Tyrone Corbin after the game.
Final: San Antonio Spurs 87 - UTAH JAZZ 81
The Spurs win the series 4-0