The San Antonio Spurs are a model of consistency and execution. Things are no different in the NBA Summer League.
The Utah Jazz had the lead, albeit slim, at the end of each of the first three quarters, but it was the Spurs who executed down the stretch and pulled away for an 86-77 victory Thursday, knocking the Jazz into the consolation bracket.
“Give credit to them, they did a real good job of moving the ball and spreading us out,” Jazz rookie Rodney Hood said. “There was times where they got second chances and we could have prevented it, but they played a good game.”
After leading by one at the end of the first three quarters, the Jazz found themselves down late in the fourth. A 3-pointer by Malcolm Thomas tied the game up at 69 with 4:44 remaining, and the teams continued to go toe-to-toe.
A pair of free throws by Hood knotted things up again at 75 with two minutes to play, but from there the Spurs took over. San Antonio outscored the Jazz 9-2 over the final 1:48, pulling away for the victory. During the stretch, Trey Burke, Dante Exum and Hood all missed 3-point attempts that would have pulled Utah within one. Instead, the Spurs sealed things up at the line.
As a team the Jazz connected on just 4 of 22 attempts (18.2 percent) from beyond the arc.
Hood paced the Jazz with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting, to go along with five rebounds in 29 minutes of action.
“I think Rodney’s more ball-skilled maybe then at least I thought. … We’re glad we have him,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “I think he’s got a great feel for the game and he’s capable of putting the ball on deck, obviously, and his midrange game showed tonight.”
Meanwhile, fellow rookie Exum struggled mightily from the floor, connecting on just 1 of 8 shots to finish with 5 points, two assists and three turnovers.
“Dante is what we thought he was. He’s young, he’s got work to do, but he’s a kid with a great deal of pride and a will to compete and improve,” Snyder said. “I think he’s tired. I think for anybody, let alone if your 18, to deal with a lot of that stuff is a lot in addition to playing. I think he’s done well. He looks fatigued to me right now; I think that’s natural.”
Early on, it looked like the Jazz — who had rolled to consecutive blowout victories — had things working again. Utah jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and at one point, big man Rudy Gobert was tied with the Spurs at 8.
A floater off the glass by Burke put Utah up 26-18 midway through the second quarter, but the Spurs chipped away at the lead for the remainder of the first half, closing within one before the break. That momentum carried over into the third quarter, as San Antonio began the second half with a 9-0 spurt, but this time the Jazz battled back, taking a 54-53 lead into the final quarter.
Gobert finished with 12 points, six rebounds and added a couple more thunderous swats to his resume. However, foul trouble limited him to only 18 minutes of action and he couldn’t get into the flow after the first quarter. Burke also added 12 for the Jazz, while Brock Motum tallied 14 on 6 of 8 shooting off the bench, to go along with eight rebounds.
“I think we did a great job moving the ball. Some games we became a little stagnant because of the way people were playing us. They were real aggressive trying to put traps on Trey,” Hood said. “I thought we shared the ball a lot. You rarely ever saw iso ball. We moved the ball; we played together for the most part.”