Thursday, January 16, 2014
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Spurs hold off Jazz

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[January 16, 2014]  SAN ANTONIO Up big in the second half, the San Antonio Spurs eased up on the Utah Jazz and let them back in the game.

That is, until point guard Tony Parker took over and kept the Spurs on course for their sixth straight win.

Parker had 25 points and nine assists as the Spurs defeated the Jazz 109-105 Wednesday night.

He was 9 of 16 from the field and 7 of 8 from free throw line, all in 33 minutes.

"If Pop's (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) calling plays, I'm not going to break plays. I'm just going to stay in the system and play for the team," Parker stated on getting directions from his coach. "If he wants me to be more aggressive like the last two games, like he's been calling my number, I'll be ready."

Parker was ready as were the Spurs starters, who all scored in double figures, including guard Manu Ginobili, with 13, who got his second start in as many games. Forwards Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan each added 15.

Forward Jeff Ayres, who started in place of forward Boris Diaw, had 10. Guard Marco Belinelli added 14 off the bench for San Antonio (31-8).

Utah (13-27) was without leading scorer Gordon Hayward, who missed his third straight game with a left hip flexor. The Jazz were led by center Enes Kanter, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

Forward Derrick Favors had another double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

The Jazz big men dominated inside, outscoring the Spurs 70-52 in the paint.

Guards Alec Burks added 20 and Trey Burke had 17, while former Spurs forward Richard Jefferson dropped in 15.

The game was tight entering the third quarter, but the Spurs hit their first eight shots of the second half to pull away from the Jazz. Parker led the third-quarter assault, scoring 12 of his points in the period.

The Spurs pushed the lead up to 18 points when Parker's 20-foot jump shot made it 74-56 with three minutes left in the third. Burke helped the Jazz cut the lead to 13 with his six-foot jumper at the end of the quarter.

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"He pulled us through it again," said Popovich on Parker's second half performance. "I thought in the third quarter Timmy (Duncan), he and Manu (Ginobili) all played really well and got the lead for us.

"But Utah kept on pushing. They've always been a gritty physical group. They never give in. They did a good job coming back and then they were fortunate enough to make shots, some tough shots that got them back in the game."

Burke continued to attack and hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 21 seconds of the fourth quarter. The second cut the lead to 107-105 with four seconds on the clock.

"It just shows who he is," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said of Burke's 11-point fourth quarter play. "There is not a moment that is too big for him. He relishes in those moments. We are going to need him to continue to grow in those moments."

San Antonio answered with Belinelli hitting the final free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

It was as close in the first half, as the teams exchanged the lead eight times, until San Antonio went on a 12-5 run to end the half and go up on top 50-45. Duncan scored seven points in that three-minute stretch to halftime.

San Antonio opened the game up with 10 assists on 10 field goals to squeeze ahead of the Jazz 28-27 after the first quarter. The Jazz stayed close behind Favors, who led all scorers at the half with 13.

"We knew coming in we were going against a really good Spurs team on the road," Burke stated. "As a team we knew we had to come out of the half with a lot of intensity, but we didn't."

NOTES: The Jazz struggle to win in the Alamo City. Utah is 2-26 in San Antonio since 1999. ... The Spurs are 26-0 when leading after three quarters. A big reason: They ranked fifth in the league in fourth-quarter scoring, led by G Tony Parker's 5.7 points. ... Utah coach Tyrone Corbin was a second-round pick (35th overall) by the Spurs in the 1985 draft. ... The Spurs shot better than 50 percent for the sixth straight game. That was the team's longest streak under coach Gregg Popovich.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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