After losing two consecutive games, the San Antonio Spurs got back on the winning track with a 119-111 victory over the Utah Jazz. The Spurs were facing a must-win situation and the victory keeps their playoff hopes alive.
While San Antonio got the win, it has to be noted that the Jazz basically gifted the victory to the Spurs. Utah sat four starters (including All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert), didn’t play Joe Ingles in the second half and went with the very end of their bench in the fourth quarter.
Even with the Jazz not showing any interest in winning the game, the Spurs didn’t exactly dominate. They were able to build double-digit advantages from time to time but could never sustain their success. Thankfully, they were able to do just enough to avoid an embarrassing loss.
Spurs vs. Jazz – Final Grades
In each of the previous games during the restart, DeRozan was able to eventually find a rhythm. That never happened against the Jazz. He was sloppy on offense, took questionable shots and missed a few open passes. Defensively, DeRozan was better than usual. His effort level was commendable, particularly in transition.
White emerged from the gates firing and kept his finger on the trigger throughout. I loved his aggression from three-point range. He also drove with purpose and passed it well. Defensively, he was engaged and played a rugged style that made life difficult for Utah. White had a few intermittent possessions where he was too passive but otherwise played very well.
Better. After some rough moments as of late, Murray improved against the Jazz. His passing, specifically, looked a lot better. His play in pick-and-roll play was impressive and he was a few more makeable buckets away from having a really solid offensive showing. Defensively, he was active and used his length well, although he had a few slow closeouts.
Lonnie Walker IV
Another player who bounced back after recent rough patches was Walker. His statistics don’t look overly impressive but his effort level was much improved. Defensively, he scratched, clawed and then hit the boards. Offensively, he kept his foot on the gas. It wasn’t always pretty but it was a lot better than the sleepwalking we had recently seen out of him.
While Poeltl’s finishes at the rim could have been stronger, his rolling to the basket was much improved and he wasn’t hesitating when the ball reached his hands. The short-handed Jazz weren’t cohesive enough when the Spurs moved the ball, which oftentimes ended up in an easy layup for Poeltl. Rebounding-wise and defense-wise, he was more aggressive and, thus, more productive.
This was one of the few games in the bubble that Johnson looked like a rookie. He was discombobulated offensively and was second-guessing himself in the middle of plays. Johnson never did find his footing on that end of the court. Defensively, he was equally as wild but his activity made things happen, as evidenced by his three steals and a block.
Gay is scoring as well as he has all season. His shot looks great and he’s back to being able to exploit mismatches. Additionally, against the Jazz, he was the author of a handful of San Antonio’s best passes. Defensively, this was his best game of the restart. He was active on the perimeter, pounded the boards and used his veteran guile to his advantage.
Belinelli was back in action following a sprained foot and he took Patty Mills’ spot in the rotation. He played decently well, overall. Defensively, he was a liability but not much more so than usual. Offensively, he moved well, knocked down a couple threes and kept the Jazz on their toes.
This was a tale of two halves for Eubanks. He was really good in the first half, especially on offense. He took his time and finished whenever given a chance. Eubanks looks to be comfortable with either hand, which gives him a high ceiling as a finisher near the rim. (Pop actually ran a post-up play for him out of a timeout, which is notable.) He was also really good on defense in the first half. The second half, though, was a different story. His timing on offense couldn’t have been worse and he was constantly in the wrong spot on defense.
There were some good signs from Weatherspoon. On offense, he can use his strong body to get to the rim and he looks like a capable pick-and-roll facilitator. Defensively, he tries hard and isn’t afraid to mix it up. The downsides: Weatherspoon’s ball-handling was suspect at times, his outside shot looked creaky and it’s still questionable whether he’s athletic enough for the NBA.
It’s difficult to have a beef with Pop when he started White, Murray and Walker and played all three of them more than 30 minutes. He also gave Johnson a good run despite his uneven play. Giving Weatherspoon minutes instead of Mills is good for developmental purposes. While the Spurs should have won this game more easily than they did, at least Pop didn’t panic and start relying too much on veterans to get the win.