SAN ANTONIO -- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich uttered a word you don't hear him use often.
"I'm thrilled," he said after San Antonio's 102-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
With Friday's 102-93 defeat, the Jazz's losing streak in San Antonio reached 16 games, the fourth-longest active road losing streak to one opponent in the NBA.
Beginning of streak
Mar. 24, 1988
Nov. 19, 1997
Feb. 7, 1999
May. 2, 1999
"It was a fine win for us. A good performance from beginning to end against a very, very good basketball team that we respect very much."
Reserve Manu Ginobili scored 25 points in the Spurs' sixth
straight victory. Tony Parker added 23 points and 11 assists, Tim
Duncan had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Michael Finley had 12 points as San Antonio snapped Utah's three-game winning streak. The Spurs have won 16 straight at home against the Jazz.
Both the Jazz and Spurs have clinched playoff spots, with San Antonio in third place in the Western Conference and Utah in fourth. The Jazz fell five games behind the Spurs heading into the final 10 games of the season.
Popovich also sang the praises of several Spurs players, including Duncan, calling him a "quarterback."
Built for the long run
The sizzling San Antonio Spurs this week provided another example of their continuing consistency as well as excellence by becoming only the fourth NBA team to pick up a ninth straight 50-win season. A look at the top streaks:
*Excluding the 1998-99 lockout season
"It was tough for him to score too much because they were coming at him so hard, doubling him at times -- most of the time," Popovich said. "But he found people every place on the court, giving everybody open shots every place."
Duncan said he was only doing his job in finding open players.
"We got some great shots out of it," he said.
Deron Williams led Utah with 23 points, followed by Carlos
Boozer with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Mehmet Okur had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
"They play beautiful basketball," Williams said. "We can learn a lot from a team like this. They way they share the ball, the way they're unselfish."
All five Jazz starters scored in double digits, but their bench produced just 10 points.
"We were prepared for a lot of their shooters coming off the
bench," Spurs forward Bruce Bowen said. "But sometimes a guy's
not hot when he comes off the bench."
And sometimes, like Ginobili, he is. Ginobili scored half of the Spurs' 50 bench points.
"We couldn't deal with him," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "It
doesn't make any difference what they do. They stay with what
they're going to do. They get the kind of shots they want to get
almost every possession."
Kirilenko jammed his right thumb and was taken out in the third quarter. He played more than 9 minutes in the fourth. X-rays
following the game were negative and the Jazz said he's probable for Sunday's game in Houston.
Kirilenko said he was proud of Utah's effort.
"For the most part we fight and we fight hard," he said.
"Sometimes we kind of lost concentration."
There were five ties and four lead changes in the first half.
But the Spurs pulled away toward the end of the second quarter and
had their biggest lead of the half, 12 points, at the break.
The Spurs took the lead for good with 8:49 left in the second quarter on Duncan's layup and extended it to as much as 14.
"We went through stretches where it didn't look like we
believed we could win," Sloan said. "So we started just taking a
couple of shots rather than try to execute."
And while the Jazz got as close as six in the fourth, San
Antonio kept a comfortable lead as Parker and Ginobili contorted
and twisted their way to the basket for several scores.
"Today, a couple of crazy layups went in," Ginobili said.
"Against those guys you need to make some of those. It's really hard to penetrate against these guys."
Finley helped out from 3-point range, hitting one from the
corner with 2:56 left to give San Antonio a 97-84 lead. It was his fourth 3 of the game, as he went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Jazz F Matt Harpring was out Friday with a stomach virus.
... Spurs F Robert Horry, who has been bothered by an abdominal
contusion, went to the bench during the third quarter and did not
return. ... The Spurs were 6-of-15 (40 percent) from 3-point range,
compared to 3-of-12 (25 percent) for Utah. ... The teams split this
season's games 2-2.