Spurs nab 40th win, fend off Utah


(Editor’s note: I’d like to cordially welcome Joe Bendiez to the Air Alamo staff. Bendiez grew up in Oklahoma City and grew to love the cerebral, humble nature of the Spurs organization. Bendiez also runs his own personal Spurs blog which you can find here. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeBendiez. He is a busy man and one that I look forward to having on this staff. Enjoy.)

While children across the country were hunting for Easter eggs Sunday, the Spurs were hunting for something just as sweet.  11 straight victories.

A respectable effort by the Jazz was squashed by MVP candidate Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who led the Spurs to a ten-point win over Utah.

Parker finished the night with 28 points, despite Gregg Popovich’s decision to bench Parker in the second quarter and handing over the keys to Patty Mills for 12 minutes.

Regardless, the Spurs never trailed in their 114-104 victory, but Utah never stopped fighting despite a few setbacks.

The Jazz were missing Raja Bell and Josh Howard, and they lost Earl Watson and CJ Miles in the process. Watson and Miles would not return to the game, and the Jazz needed a spark.

Off the bench, DeMarre Carroll and Derrick Favors poured in 16 and 14 points, respectively. However, the night was San Antonio’s.

Apr 8, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz forward DeMarre Carroll (3) during the second half at the AT

The Jazz bigs were out-rebounded by San Antonio, specifically Tim Duncan who pulled down 16 boards. And while it was a big night for the Big Three, the Spurs played a very balanced game.

Defensively, Utah struggled to create offense and forced tough shots or turned over the ball. On the other end, San Antonio shot 50% from the field and 27% from beyond the arc. Also, it is hard to complain when San Antonio shoots 88% from the charity line.

Although, an interesting move by Popovich, Boris Diaw started in place of Dejuan Blair. Diaw logged 24:09 of action. Along with Stephen Jackson, Blair saw no action in the win. However, Diaw is not exactly unfamiliar with being placed in a bigger role.

Boris Diaw went 4-5 from the field and finished the game with nine points. Although, Diaw fouled out in the contest, marking the first time this season a San Antonio player has committed six fouls.

Speaking of fouls, no one had any problem giving the referees a piece of their mind. Popovich and Duncan received technical fouls for challenging calls, as well as a frustrated Paul Millsap.

While the refs did let a few slip by them, thankfully, they picked up on an obvious clear-path foul by Jamaal Tinsley. Parker, making a break down court, was shoved to the ground by Tinsley, but Parker got back up and came out unscratched.

It will be interesting to see how both teams respond tomorrow night in Salt Lake City, considering the heated moments during the game. The Jazz will definitely need a similar bench effort and will need to catch a few more breaks.

All in all, it was a hard fought game. The Jazz fell behind big several times, but kept fighting back. The Spurs did not let any of the Utah runs faze them, and claimed their eleventh straight win and cling on to the top spot in the Western Conference.

The Spurs will battle Utah again tomorrow night at 8:00 PM CST. All the action can be caught on Fox Sports-Southwest and 1200 WOAI, live from EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake.

Game notes.San Antonio got to the line 43 times, converting 38 of them (88.4 percent) … The 43 attempts represents a new season-high; their previous high was 33 against the Pacers on Mar. 31 … This was the Spurs’ third game in the last three years with 40-plus free throw attempts … Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker shot 24-of-25 from the line (96 percent) … Utah and San Antonio both made six 3-pointers on the night snapping the Spurs five-game streak of converting more shots from behind the arc … The lead never changed nor was there ever a tie … DeJuan Blair’s healthy DNP was his first missed game of the entire year … James Anderson and Stephen Jackson were also healthy DNP’s … Tim Duncan swatted three shots, making it his fifth consecutive game with two or more blocks; he added 13 points and 16 rebounds to the cause … San Antonio shot 61.7 percent on 2-pointers … Utah shot 45.5 percent on 2-pointers … Utah took 24 more shots than the Spurs but that was offset by the Spurs ability to get to the line with impunity … Kawhi Leonard scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in in 26:40 … Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson both posted double-doubles …