Not much has gone right for either the San Antonio Spurs or the Utah Jazz through the first quarter of the NBA season, but both teams take a modicum of momentum into play for their dustup on Sunday afternoon at the AT&T Center in the Alamo City.
The Spurs, who haven’t won back-to-back games since winning four straight in an eight-day span Oct. 27-Nov. 3, just hope to play better than they did in a 34-point loss at Utah on Monday.
San Antonio showed signs of emerging from a season-long funk when it rallied to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 133-120 at home on Friday to snap a two-game losing skid. DeMar DeRozan matched his season-high with 36 points in the win, as the Spurs came back from a 12-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.
Eight Spurs players scored in double-figures in the victory, and San Antonio’s reserves backups outscored the Lakers’ bench players 54-26.
“It was one of those nights where we really clicked with our second unit,” Spurs backup center Jakob Poeltl said after he scored 14 points, took eight rebounds and recorded three blocked shots. “We had so much run out there playing. I sure found my spots.”
San Antonio (12-14) avoided falling four games under .500 for the first time since Nov. 15, 1996. San Antonio took the season series with the Lakers, 3-1.
“Jakob, you know, he is a quick learner,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said about Poeltl. “He executed his role in an excellent manner for sure. He got into spots where he can get the ball. They probably let him go a little bit, not thinking he would do much, I guess.”
The Jazz (13-13) head to San Antonio after winning their past two outings, including a 118-91 victory at home over Houston on Thursday that allowed it to reach the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 17.
Utah, which has won four of its past five games, has not been more than two games above break-even since it was 4-2 after a road win over Dallas on Oct. 28.
“I just thought the way our team competed tonight, regardless of any situation, that’s the primary thing,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said after the win over Houston. “The game is always going to throw you adversity, it’s wrapped different ways.”
The victory over the Rockets came despite the first-quarter ejection of center Rudy Gobert, the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Gobert was overly demonstrative after being called for his second foul of the game just 2:47 into the opening period.
“It was just frustration, I think – a lot of frustration,” Gobert said after the game. “I’ve got to be smarter. It didn’t cost the team tonight – it could’ve cost the team, losing me in the first quarter. It’s not the smartest thing to do.”
The Jazz set a franchise record with 20 three-pointers made in Monday’s win over San Antonio, shooting 60.6 percent (20-33) from beyond the arc on their way to their 34-point win.
Despite the loss to the Jazz earlier this week, San Antonio owns a 104-82 all-time edge over Utah and a 71-22 advantage at home through the years.