SAN ANTONIO, TX - OCTOBER 04: Keldon Johnson #3 of the San Antonio Spurs pressures Mike Conley #11 of the Utah jazz in first half of their pre-season game at AT&T Center on October 2, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Shorthanded Jazz Fall to San Antonio in Preseason Opener

It’s good to be back.

After an offseason full of questions regarding last season’s defeat in the playoffs, the Utah Jazz were able to put all of that behind them on Monday night in San Antonio-the team’s preseason opener.

Playing without four key contributors and despite a late fourth quarter comeback, Utah came up short in its preseason opener, falling 111-85 to the Spurs on the road.

“It’s freeing, just coming out there and able to play with everyone as a group,” Donovan Mitchell said. “It’s good to be back. … It’s good to be back with fans. That’s what’s most fun for me, playing in away arenas and having the crowd against you.”

It was known late last week that the Jazz would be without starter Bojan Bogdanovic and essential free agent addition Rudy Gay. But then head coach Quin Snyder announced 90 minutes before tipoff that three-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles would also be sitting out tonight's game.

In his pregame press conference, Snyder said that Gobert and Ingles’ shortened offseason led to them resting tonight. Both players participated in the Olympics this past summer.

After struggling in the opening half, rookie Jared Butler played with much better poise over the final 24 minutes. He led the team with 16 points in just under 20 minutes of action, shooting 6-of-15 from the floor while adding two assists and two steals.

“I think we saw some of the same things we talked about, he plays with poise,” Snyder said of Butler postgame. “Jared has shown his ability to not just put the ball in the basket but make plays for other people.”

In a team-high 25 minutes and starting in place of the injured Bogdanovic, Elijah Hughes had an excellent all-around game. He finished with nine points, eight rebounds, and four steals while shooting 3-of-7 from beyond the arc.

Newcomer Eric Paschall also had a promising debut for the Jazz.

In 20 minutes of action off the bench, he finished with seven points and five rebounds. But according to Snyder, it was Paschall’s intangibles that impressed him most.

“Eric took good shots. … I also thought he got into the lane and made good plays for his teammates,” Snyder said. “It’s good to see a guy play with passion. He has a lot of pride with how he plays. … I was happy.”

Fellow newcomer Hassan Whiteside, starting in place of Gobert, finished with a near double-double of six points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson added 11 points off the bench while Mitchell finished with 10.

Utah finishes its preseason road trip on Wednesday when it faces off with Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. MST and will be aired on NBATV.

“We didn’t make shots. It’s the first preseason game and we’ll get better. … We’ll evolve,” Mitchell said.

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