The San Antonio Spurs are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. The last time they failed to make a postseason appearance was back during the 1996-1997 season, a season before they drafted Tim Duncan. Since then, they have won five championships, the most recent one against the Miami Heat in the 2014 Playoffs. Right now, they sit at the 13th seed in the Western Conference with a 12-14 record, hoping to grab a second straight win over the Utah Jazz at home.
The Jazz, on the other hand, are trying to make the playoffs for a third straight time, losing the last two in the Western Conference Semifinals; one against the Golden State Warriors and one against the Houston Rockets. The Utah Jazz will hope to win for a third straight time.
The San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz have battled each other a grand total of 210 times in the past as the Jazz won 94 games while the Spurs went on to win 116 games. This meeting will mark the second of three matchups between these two ball clubs. The last time they saw each other was on December 4 when the Jazz blew the Spurs out of the building, 139-105. Donovan Mitchell finished that game with 20 points, one rebound, 2 assists, and 2 steals while Jakob Poeltl had 20 points, 7 rebound, one assist, and one block.
San Antonio Spurs:
-Dante Cunningham (abdomen; 4.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 44.7 FG%, 44.2 3P%, 90.0 FT%)
-Pau Gasol (foot; 6.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.3 APG, 51.2 FG%, 57.1 3P%, 72.2 FT%)
-Dejounte Murray (knee)
-Davis Bertans (personal; 7.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.9 APG, 48.0 FG%, 44.9 3P%, 93.3 FT%)
-Lonnie Walker (G-League)
-Ben Moore (G-League)
-Tony Bradley (G-League)
-Naz Mitrou-Long (G-League; 0.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 FG%, 0.0 3P%)
-Georges Niang (3.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 0.5 APG, 44.0 FG%, 38.2 3P%, 85.7 FT%)
-Tyler Cavanaugh (G-League)
The San Antonio Spurs would show dominance in the first half as they shot 50 percent from the field, limiting the Utah Jazz to 36 percent shooting. DeMar DeRozan, who averaged 20 points a game in his first 9 years with the Raptors, got hot for 16 points in the first half of this contest. He also had 5 defensive rebounds and 2 steals while LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in with 14 points on 78 percent shooting. Aldridge used his 6’11” height to his advantage as he pulled down 5 boards and blocked 2 shots from going in.
Brooklyn-native Rudy Gay was kept to just three points in the half while Bryn Forbes was able to cough up four points. Derrick White scored only two points in the 16 minutes that he played as he attempted just three shots. Marco Belinelli, who averaged a career-high 14 points last season, played the most minutes off the bench as he scored 8 points, including two 3-pointers in the first.
On the other end of the court, the Jazz’s leading scorer this season, Donovan Mitchell, was kept completely scoreless in the 18 minutes that he played in the first half. He did manage to grab 3 defensive rebounds while stealing the ball twice from his opponent. Thabo Sefolosha came off the bench to carry the load as he had 9 points, shooting a perfect 100 percent from the field. He also had a trey while Rudy Gobert helped out with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and one block. Ricky Rubio also had seven points which held a three-pointer in the first period. Royce O’Neale played 13 minutes off the bench as he had 5 points but it was the home team that went into halftime with a huge 54 to 36 lead.
Mitchell came out of the locker room hot as he lit the floor up with 27 points to make up for his poor performance in the first half. He shot 53 percent from the field while hitting 3 three-pointers. Rubio also scored more in this half as he had 19 points, finishing the game out with a total of 26 points. Gobert added 5 more points to his scoring total while Derrick Favors had only two points, going scoreless in the first session. O’Neale played the most minutes off the bench as he didn’t even attempt a shot.
As for the 5-time champions, Gay made up for his first-half performance as he had 20 points on 90 percent shooting. He also had 10 rebounds, 2 assists, one steal, and one block while DeRozan saw to it that he got 12 points. Forbes was able to get it going as he earned 11 points while LaMarcus Aldridge had just six points. Former Portland Trail Blazers guard Patty Mills played 14 minutes off the bench as he had just a three-pointer but the Spurs were still able to hand the Jazz a 110-97 defeat. DeMar DeRozan finished the game with 26 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, and one block while Donovan Mitchell had 27 points, 5 rebounds, one assist, 2 steals, and one block.
The San Antonio Spurs will host Deandre Ayton (15.8 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 59.5 FG%, 00.0 3P%) and the struggling Phoenix Suns (4-22) on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. This game will mark the third of four times that these teams will battle each other during this season. The last time they saw each other was on November 14 when the Spurs fell to the Suns, 96-116. During that game, T.J. Warren scored 27 points, pulled down 4 rebounds, gave out 2 assists, and committed 3 steals while DeMar DeRozan finished with 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The Utah Jazz will visit Oklahoma to take on Paul George (24.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 4.4 APG, 42.3 FG%, 35.2 3P%) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (16-8) on Monday at 8:00 p.m. This will be the first of four matchups between these teams this season. Last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder won the regular-season series, 3-1, but ended up losing in the first round of those playoffs to the Jazz, 2-4.