Fran Baltzer

The Roundup—Shorthanded Jazz stun Spurs

by Matt Payne

Playing the second half of a back-to-back set after arriving in San Antonio at 5:30am, the Jazz should have been tired.

But they weren't.

And playing without leading scorer Donovan Mitchell—who was out with the flu one night after dropping 40 points in Phoenix—the Jazz should have had a tough time scoring.

But they didn't.

Instead, Utah came out on fire once again, taking the lead midway through the first quarter and never giving it up en route to a 120-111 victory over the Spurs on Saturday night.

Ricky Rubio (34 points) and Royce O'Neale (18 points) each set new career highs in scoring to lead the Jazz (24-28), who have now won five straight games.

Rudy Gobert notched his 11th double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds (and three blocks), while Derrick Favors (14 points), Raul Neto (12 points) and Joe Ingles (10 points) also scored in double figures in the win.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored a team-high 31 points in the loss for the Spurs (34-21).

Saturday's Best

Rubio had everything working against the Spurs. Jumpers off the dribble? Sure. How about off one foot? Why not. Scooping layups in traffic? You bet. Threes from the wing? Nothing but net. Rubio drilled his first nine shots from the field and finished with 34 points, three rebounds and nine assists in 35 minutes. Overall, he shot 11-for-14 from the field (including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc) and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. Over his last five games, Rubio is averaging 19.2 points (on 58.6 percent shooting), 6.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists.

Key Stretches

The Jazz fell behind 6-0 before they got going. Actually, it was Rubio who got going. Utah's point guard scored 14 of the team's first 18 points and led them to a 24-14 lead. Rubio hit three jumpers, two 3-pointers and a driving layup, and he also assisted on two straight buckets by Gobert. Ingles added a corner three during that stretch.

The Jazz led by as many as 14 until San Antonio made a run in the fourth quarter, with a 3-pointer by Patty Mills cutting Utah's lead to one with 7:28 left in the game. The Jazz, though, responded with four 3-pointers—one each by Rubio and Ingles, and two by O'Neale—in the next two minutes to steal back the momentum. A dunk by Favors, a huge steal and slam by O'Neale, and two free throws by Gobert in the closing minutes helped Utah hold on for the win.

Significant Stats

56.5

The Jazz shot 56.5 percent from the field against one of the NBA's best defenses. The Spurs entered the night allowing their opponents to shoot 44.8 percent, which is No. 4 in the NBA.

60+

With 61 first-half points, the Jazz have now scored at least 60 points by halftime in each of their past three games.

97.6

Rubio and O'Neale had a truly remarkable night, combining to shoot 17-for-21 (81.0 percent) from the field. They shot 7-for-8 from 3-point range and 11-for-12 from the free-throw line, and their combined eFG% was a ridiculous 97.6.

Coach's Quote of the Night

"I think we were mantally tough. We were a little fatigued and not as sharp, and we fought through it. Our bench came in—Raul, Royce, Ekpe, those guys were terrific—and helped stabilize us. We just competed."

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

Notable

Superstar Kawhi Leonard (quad) missed his 10th straight game for the Spurs. Leonard has played in only nine games this season. ... Besides Mitchell (flu), Joe Johnson (rest) also sat out for the Jazz. ... Utah shot 12-for-23 (52.2 percent) from beyond the arc. ... Rodney Hood (leg contusion) returned to action after missing the past six games. He came off the bench to score five points in 16 minutes. ... The Jazz finished with 26 assists (one more than the Spurs) and 37 rebounds (also one more than the Spurs). ... Utah shot 30-for-36 (83.3 percent) from the free-throw line and shot twice as many free throws as the Spurs (18).

Up Next

The Jazz will travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Monday. Tipoff is set for 6:00pm MT.