Western Conference Game 3
Written by Randy Watson
The Spurs had more or less had their way with the Utah Jazz, who had seemed more or less lifeless for most of the first two games of this series. In the first two games, San Antonio had gotten out to such large leads early in the games, that both contests were pretty much decided by halftime. In games one and two, Utah did manage to crawl back late to make the scores more respectable, but they were never close to winning. All that changed in Game 3.
San Antonio held a four point lead at halftime, which was a sign that this game was going to be different. In the previous two, the Spurs leads were 17 and 18 points. Saturday night, Utah got its spurt going much earlier, and San Antonio was never able to respond. In fact, the Spurs simply wilted, and Utah was able to run away to a 109-83 blow-out. Utah played tougher and smarter than before, and was more accurate in their shooting than San Antonio.
Tim Duncan, who was riding a streak of 11 games scoring 20+ points and grabbing 10+ rebounds, was broken. He got into foul trouble early, and although he didn\'t foul out, played without the aggression that had allowed him to be such a force in these playoffs. He ended up with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 5 fouls, and 8 turnovers. About the only Spurs\' player to have a good game was Tony Parker, who scored 25 points, and had 7 assists. The only other Spur to score in double digits was Manu Ginobili, who scored 14 points, but was only 4-12 shooting.
For Utah, their replacements for John Stockton and Karl Malone, played more like their successors than they young players they actually are. Deron Williams scored 31 points and had 8 assists, and Carlos Boozer accounted for 27 points and 12 rebounds. Utah’s reserve players, quiet for most of the series, came alive on Utah’s home court, and added significant contributions in minutes and play.
One game doesn’t make a series, but the young Jazz seemed to finally find the confidence playing at home, that they had been missing in the first two games. San Antonio, on the other hand, never seemed to get going, and although they still have the lead and home-court advantage in the series, they cannot afford to take the young Jazz for granted anymore.
Game 4 is Monday night in Utah, before heading back to San Antonio. A Spurs victory on Monday would likely prove to be the dagger that would finish Utah. However, allowing the Jazz to even the series could change the entire complexion of the series and give a young team the confidence needed to perhaps surprise a veteran one.