Spurs sit stars, lose at Utah
With a playoff spot locked up and a grueling stretch ahead, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich called it a ''no-brainer'' to rest stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
That was fine by a Utah Jazz team still trying to punch a ticket to the postseason.
After losing to the Spurs by 10 on Sunday night in San Antonio, the Jazz (30-28) rebounded with a 91-84 victory in Monday's rematch in Salt Lake City.
''We wanted to come out and get a little bit of revenge from last night,'' said Gordon Hayward, who started at shooting guard Monday for the injury-depleted Jazz. ''They battled and battled until the end and we were able to come out on top.''
Credit Devin Harris, who scored 11 straight for the Jazz in the fourth quarter and had a team-high 25 points.
''The big difference in the game, like with a lot of NBA games down the stretch, is you have got to make shots, and Devin came down and knocked down two in transition in a row. On the other end, we couldn't throw it in the ocean,'' Popovich said.
The Spurs (40-15) were down just 84-80 with 2:23 remaining after Harris' run, which included a pair of 3-pointers. But they shot just 2 of 7 the rest of the way and committed a turnover.
''Both teams were digging deep, especially after playing last night and having the long flight here,'' said Matt Bonner, who finished with 10 points for the Spurs. ''It was like a heavyweight boxing match and it was coming down to the end. They hit us with a couple of extra punches.''
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was glad to see Harris step up after he started 1 of 5.
''He was the one guy for us who acted like he had a little more in the tank so it was great to see him come out and be aggressive on the offensive end,'' Corbin said.
The victory halted the Spurs' 11-game winning streak and allowed Utah to remain 1 1/2 games out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
The loss was San Antonio's first since March 17 and ended a six-game winning streak against the Jazz.
Another number that was huge was 13 - the number of blocked shots the Jazz had Monday.
Hayward said the Jazz wanted to make a statement.
''We have to protect this house,'' said Hayward, who had a pair of blocks. ''No easy buckets.''
Al Jefferson led the Jazz with four blocks. He added 12 points and 10 rebounds and a steal.
Paul Millsap had 18 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks for the Jazz, and sealed the win with a put-back dunk with 43 seconds remaining.
Reserve Jeremy Evans had three blocks before leaving in the third quarter with a sprained right ankle.
Popovich wasn't worried about securing the No. 1 overall seed but ''trying to survive.''
The Spurs play three games in four days starting with the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. They have 11 games remaining in the condensed season.
While the Spurs were resting players who combined averaged 46.8 points, Corbin was trying to find bodies.
Guard Raja Bell (knee) remains inactive, guard Earl Watson will need knee surgery, and small forwards Josh Howard (knee) and C.J. Miles (calf) also are out with injuries.
That left DeMarre Carroll, on his fourth team in three years, making only his second career start in 99 games. The Spurs started Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson.
Both teams looked out of sorts early, with the Jazz starting 1 of 7 with a pair of turnovers and the Spurs starting 1 of 6.
''Coach Pop told us before the game to play hard,'' said Tiago Splitter, who along with Gary Neal led the Spurs with 14 points. ''We tried hard. We gave a great effort. In the end we couldn't hit the shots.''
DeJuan Blair, who was given Sunday night off, added 13 points for San Antonio.
Popovich gave the Jazz plenty of credit before the game, and after for holding it together despite a lack of stars and injuries.
''You think they played harder tonight because of the playoffs?'' Popovich said. ''This is Utah, the Jazz play hard every night. There has never been a night that they don't play hard.''
The Jazz took a 23-19 lead into the second quarter and bumped it to 30-23 on a spin move inside by Derrick Favors.
Neal, Mills and Splitter brought San Antonio back with seven points apiece in the second quarter as the Spurs pulled within 47-44 at the break.
The Spurs looked in control in the fourth, when they surged ahead 75-67 on a free throw by Splitter.
But Jamaal Tinsley hit a jumper then Harris took over. He finished 7 of 17, but 3 of 7 from beyond the arc, and made 8 of 12 free throws with six assists, a steal and a blocked shot.
''It was kind of a sluggish game for the first three quarters,'' Harris said of a matchup that featured 34 turnovers (20 by the Jazz). ''But we got some stops, got into transition and get some good shots and knock them down. San Antonio (without its stars) defensively is still one of the best teams in the league. But we were able to grind it out and get the win.''
Notes: Hall of Famer John Stockton was in attendance and received a standing ovation from the crowd when he was announced and shown on the big screen. ... Utah signed NBA D-League sharp-shooter Blake Ahearn to a 10-day contract Monday. ... The Jazz announced backup point guard Watson would have surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. He is out indefinitely. ... Miles won't travel with the team on its three-game road trip because of a strained left calf. ...The Spurs entered the game first in the NBA in 3-point shooting (.387) but were just 7 of 24 from beyond the arc.