Spurs players in harmony as they blow away 'flat' Jazz

SAN ANTONIO • Monday's National Basketball Association game got so out of hand that San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich showed some mercy to the Utah Jazz in his post-game interview.

His team were not so kind during the game.

Forward Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points and the Spurs smashed the weary visitors 118-81.

"We played very well but they had a tough night," Popovich said of Utah. "They were in an overtime game last night (in a loss against Oklahoma City), and (centre Rudy) Gobert is not there for them, which makes a big difference for them.

"We caught a break without any doubt."

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge and guard Tony Parker added 18 points apiece in the lopsided win for the steam-rolling Spurs.

No starter played more than 24 minutes as San Antonio improved to 21-5 and won their third game in a row in blow-out fashion.

NO LET-UP IN FOCUS

It's not easy to win two games like that in a row, so it shows that our concentration was good tonight.

TONY PARKER, Spurs guard, on getting consecutive blow-out victories

With their 37-point victory on Monday, the Spurs (13.2) passed the Golden State Warriors (13.1) for highest average winning margin in the league this season.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder did not hesitate to put the Spurs up there with the 24-1 reigning champions Warriors. "They're equally good," he said. "They're two of the best teams in the NBA."

San Antonio, who led the Jazz (10-13) by as many as 46 points, defeated their previous two opponents, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks, by an average of 23.5 points.

Centre Derrick Favors was one of only three Jazz players who scored in double figures, finishing with 16 points. Starting point guard Raul Neto scored 12 while back-up guard Trey Burke added 10.

"Guys are down. They're tired," Snyder said. "The sky kind of fell, but it happens."

The Jazz shot 40.5 per cent from the field overall and scored only 36 points in the first half.

The game was never competitive after Parker broke a 2-2 tie with a lay-up, sparking a 15-2 run for the home side.

San Antonio led by 14 after the first quarter, 23 at half-time and 40 going into the fourth.

San Antonio shot 56 per cent from the field, out-rebounded Utah 48-32 and had 21 fast-break points to 12 for the Jazz.

Thirteen players scored for the Spurs, including double-digit outings for guard Patty Mills (11) and forward Matt Bonner (10).

"It's always tough to have big leads in the NBA. We have been able to keep it at that the last two games," Parker said.

"It's not easy to win two games like that in a row, so it shows that our concentration was good tonight."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2015, with the headline 'Spurs players in harmony as they blow away 'flat' Jazz'. Print Edition | Subscribe