One Win from the Finals

Written by Randy Watson

Spurs Stun Jazz 91-79, One Win From Finals

After getting blown out in Game 3, San Antonio came back focused and physical in Game 4, and managed to get out of Salt Lake City with a 1-1 split with the Jazz, and needing one more victory to advance to the NBA Finals.  The game certainly wasn' pretty, with technical fouls being called, trash being thrown on the court and at Spurs' players, and the Spurs shooting more free throws than field goals, but at the end, San Antonio managed to hand the Jazz their first loss on their home court in the playoffs.

It was a heated contest, and emotions-especially on the Jazz sideline-were high.  Utah's coach, Jerry Sloan, was ejected along with Derek Fisher late in the 4th period.  The play of Manu Ginobili was, in large part, the reason for the ejections. After three quarters of relatively anonymous play by the Argentine, he began slashing and driving to the basket in the fourth, and was fouled on a number of those.  Utah\'s fans, believing that the referees were calling the game in San Antonio\'s favor, grew angrier and angrier . . . and so did the Jazz.  Utah was called for four technical fouls in the final period, and each time they went to the line, San Antonio's players calmly hit free throw after free throw to seal the game.

None of the Spurs\' players had particularly great games.  Tim Duncan had a quiet night, scoring 19 points and 9 rebounds to go along with a solid defensive performance which saw him rack up 5 blocks.  Fabricio Oberto had what was probably his best game of the playoffs, scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.  Manu Ginobili led the team in scoring with 22 points, 12 of which came from the free throw line.

For Utah, Deron Williams continued his great play, but, with the exception of Carlos Boozer, received almost no help from any of his teammates.  Williams scored 27 points to lead all scorers, and also had 10 assists.  Boozer had 18 points and 9 rebounds.  Mehmet Okur and Derrick Fisher both fouled out, and the Jazz ended up with 27 team fouls to San Antonio's 17.

Although the final score indicates a rather one-sided win, most of the game was fairly close.  In fact, at the start of the fourth quarter San Antonio was only ahead by one point.  One ironic point is that with his 87th career playoff victory, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich tied Utah coach Jerry Sloan for fifth on the all-time victory list.