SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Apparently the San Antonio Spurs are not comfortable unless they are under duress.
After needing last-second shots to win their first two games, the Spurs required another valiant effort from Tony Parker after squandering a 19-point lead against the Utah Jazz.
Parker had 24 points and 10 assists to help the Spurs fend off a late rally and beat the Jazz 110-100 on Saturday night.
Parker had six points and three assists in the final 5 minutes as San Antonio (3-0) continued its home dominance over Utah (1-2).
“It’s tough when you’re on the road against a team like that and come back, but we did,” Jazz forward Paul Millsap said. “We put ourselves within reach to win the game, but their veterans came through.”
Tim Duncan added 19 points and 11 rebounds, Danny Green had 21 points and Kawhi Leonard 13.
The Spurs seemed assured of matching their best start since the 2007-2008 season after a blazing start at home.
San Antonio shot 74 percent from the field in racing to a 62-44 lead at the half. They made 5 of 7 3-pointers in the first half and held the Jazz to 32 percent shooting.
The Spurs also had Manu Ginobili back in the lineup after he missed the team’s first two games due to back spasms.
Everything was pointing to an easy victory before the Jazz took over after the half.
The Spurs squandered a 19-point lead in the third quarter when the Jazz went on a 24-5 run to tie the game.
Mo Williams hit a pair of free throws to cap the run and tie the game at 79 at the close of the third quarter. Williams had 11 of his game-high 29 points during the run.
“It just flowed that way,” Williams said. “I hit a couple of shots and we got into some transition situations. I had it going a little bit. If it was me, if it was Al (Jefferson), if it was Paul (Millsap) — anyone of us want to ride the hot hand — and I just happen to be the point guard with the ball in my hand. I created some shots. I thought I did a good job to get my teammates more involved.”
Millsap added 17 points, Jefferson 16 and Gordon Hayward 15.
The Spurs said they expected the Jazz to eventually cut into their lead, but the 7-minute outburst took even them by surprise.
“We expect teams to make runs,” Duncan said. “We hope they don’t make runs and get hot so they don’t get back in the game (but they did). We didn’t panic. I thought we did a great job of sticking with what we were doing, and focused ourselves on defense.”
The Spurs then turned to their two stars in the fourth.
Duncan and Parker combined to score seven points in the final 4 minutes to preserve the victory.
San Antonio also forced six turnovers in the fourth quarter and held Utah to 11 field goal attempts after allowing the Jazz to make 12 of 24 shots in the third.
“Our guys were really embarrassed by that,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Together playing good individual and team defense; holding them to 21 (points) was the key and they knew it.”
It was the same defensive intensity San Antonio displayed in building the 19-point lead.
After Gordon Heyward made a 22-foot jumper on the team’s first attempt, the Jazz missed their next nine shots as the Spurs raced to a 15-5 lead. Derrick Favors’ dunk snapped Utah’s dry spell with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.
“We were rolling,” Green said. “We were playing well, and we were moving the ball and things were going well. They were playing pretty good defense, and that made us play better defense, which generated our offense and gave us a little boost and a little energy.”
The Spurs had seven turnovers in the first quarter, but offset that by holding Utah to 32 percent shooting.
After having only one turnover in his first two games, Parker had three in the first quarter alone.
Ginobili made his season debut with 3:06 left in the first quarter, drawing thunderous applause from the sold out crowd. Ginobili scored his first points in typical style, driving from behind the three-point line for a scooping left-handed layup. His entry in the second half drew an equally loud response from the crowd. NOTES: San Antonio holds a 63-20 record at home against the Jazz and lead the overall series 91-73. … The Spurs eclipsed their previous high for points in the first half (43) set in their season opener against New Orleans. The Spurs’ record for field goal percentage in a half is 84 percent, which they set in the first half against Cleveland on Dec. 11, 2004.