Utah Jazz embarrassed by Spurs in Game 2 blowout
By Brian T. smith
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published May 02 2012 09:19PM
San Antonio • Dead on arrival. Two games away from extinction. Beaten down, humiliated and embarrassed.
That’s the eighth-seeded Jazz after two worthless battles with the No. 1 Spurs.
After suffering one of its worst playoff losses in recent memory — a 114-83 no-show Wednesday at the AT&T Center — Utah returns home to Salt Lake City with its season on the line and a staggering number of issues to immediately address.
The Jazz don’t have an answer for Tony Parker. When Utah keeps a Spur such as Manu Ginobili in check, lesser-name San Antonio players such as Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green instantly become Jazz killers. And Utah’s Tyrone Corbin hasn’t come close to drawing even with Gregg Popovich, the just-named 2011-12 NBA Coach of the Year.
Al Jefferson and Josh Howard were the only Jazz players to score in double digits Wednesday, recording 10 points apiece for a passion-less team that shot just 34.4 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers that were exchanged for 22 San Antonio points.
Parker recorded game highs in points (18) and assists (nine), while Tim Duncan’s 13 rebounds topped all players.
"We made shots and they couldn’t throw it in the ocean. … It happens to all of us, and it happened to them [Wednesday]," Popovich said.
The Jazz’s 0-2 Western Conference first-round series deficit looks even worse when the real numbers are rolled out.
San Antonio has outscored Utah by 46 points in two games, highlighted by a surreal 43-14 Spurs run that bridged the second and third quarters Wednesday and left 20-year-old power forward Derrick Favors as the only Jazz athlete making a dent in San Antonio’s ironclad shell.
The Spurs shot 52.4 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the 3-point line. Utah has hit just 38 percent of its field goals and 26.3 percent of its 3s, while San Antonio has attempted 20 more shots beyond the arc.
And while the Spurs have dished out 53 assists compared to the Jazz’s 33, the paint has suddenly turned into Utah’s biggest problem.
The Jazz’s inside depth and a big unit featuring Paul Millsap, Favors and Jefferson were supposed to be Utah’s primary assets against a stacked San Antonio team that entered the series tied with Chicago for the best overall record in the NBA. But even though the Spurs have relied on undersized power forwards Boris Diaw and DeJuan Blair — injured reserve center Tiago Splitter was held out of Game 2 — San Antonio has beaten the Jazz at their own game.
The Spurs are outscoring Utah 120-80 in the lane, and the Jazz haven’t just failed to look like the resilient team that won five consecutive games to make a late leap into the playoffs — Utah hasn’t even shown up in the series.
"I don’t even know what to say," said Millsap, who was held to nine points on 4-of-11 shooting. "They just took us completely out of our offense. We couldn’t get open. We couldn’t make simple passes."
Then Millsap acknowledged what was obvious as the Spurs’ untouchable Game 2 lead hit 38 points four separate times in the final quarter. This is playoff basketball. And after twice being punched in the mouth and embarrassed on a national stage, a Jazz team few initially expected to be playing in early May has received an unforgiving introduction to the NBA’s second season.
Is Corbin getting the intensity he needs from key players such as Jefferson and Harris? He said he might not be for 48 minutes, and Jefferson acknowledged Utah didn’t play as hard as it needed to Wednesday. But what Corbin knows without hesitation is the Jazz have to pull off a complete 180-degree turnaround Saturday in Game 3 inside EnergySolutions Arena — or else.
"We need to play better. But the difference between now and the regular season is a whole ’nother level and these guys are learning that," Corbin said. "Not making excuses, but we have to understand the importance of being ready and being ready for 48 minutes. Any little lapse, and [the Spurs] take advantage of it."
San Antonio abused and embarrassed the Jazz during Game 2.
Utah has three days to recover and prove it’s still alive.
"We go home to our home building and you have to treat it as though we are fighting for our lives," Jazz guard Gordon Hayward said. "We lose and we are done."
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