"Treat Every Game The Same" | Five Things To Know Following Utah's Victory Over San Antonio

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

Riding a four-game losing streak and with their top four scorers all sitting in street clothes on the bench, Utah had an uphill climb if they would get back to their winning ways. 

Turns out that Talen Horton-Tucker was ready for the moment. 

Behind a career-high 41 points from Horton-Tucker and an impressive debut by Luka Samanic, Utah stayed afloat in its push for the postseason by pulling away in the fourth quarter to pick up the 128-117 win over San Antonio.

"A good bounce back win for us," head coach Will Hardy said. "I think our guys have been playing really hard lately, they've stayed committed to what we're doing. They've done it as a group and it's good for them to see the reward of that by getting a win."

1.) Talen Is TALENted
Horton-Tucker finished with 41 points on 15-of-25 shooting, 6-of-11 from deep, and 5-for-6 from the free throw line. He also added four rebounds and one steal. 

Apart from knocking down an early three, he did a sensational job of getting downhill early and often. Using his strength and length, he could get off any shot at the rim, as San Antonio had no answer for him. After attacking so much, it opened up his shooting from beyond the arc as he could step into threes. 

Beyond the scoring, the best part of the night is that he still finished with five assists. It showed his growth and maturity as he played under control and kept his teammates involved. 

"Seeing the shots starting to fall early really gave my confidence a big boost," he said. "I was just trying to keep the defense guessing, staying consistent at all three levels, and be aggressive. … I feel like if I come out and do all those three things, I'll be successful on the court."

2.) Second Unit Scoring
Following Monday's loss to Phoenix, Hardy spoke with media postgame about Utah's need to do something with its second unit if they would stay competitive in its postseason chase. 

"We've got to figure out offensively what we're going to do with that group to try to generate some easier baskets," he said. "Some of that's gonna take a little bit of time, but we don't have time. … We've got to figure out a way as a staff to help that group generate some better shots. We may need to look at changing up the substitution patterns a little bit and trying to mix that group some."

Whatever changes Hardy and his staff made, they worked against the Spurs. 

Utah got 58 points from its bench, including double-figuring scoring outputs from Kris Dunn, Udoka Azubuike, and Johnny Juzang. They held off any runs made by the Spurs' second unit and then did enough to secure the victory in the fourth. 

“Obviously Talen was special tonight,” Hardy said. “But there were a lot of guys contributing on both ends of the floor that not only allowed him (Horton-Tucker) to have 41 points, but allowed our team to come out with the win tonight. Really proud of the fact that the guys have maintained throughout the whole season to stay focused on the present. … Just go out there and compete.”

3.) Dunn Dominates
Since joining the Jazz, Dunn has been the steadying veteran presence Utah has needed to lead its bench. Wednesday night showed how valuable he is to that second unit, finishing with his 11th game in double figures scoring out of 16 games played. 

Horton-Tucker was on a heater all night, but it meant someone else would have to pick up the slack when he went to the bench — Dunn embraced that role. As usual, he broke down the Spurs' defense and made a living getting into the paint, either getting off a shot at the rim or dishing to an open man. 

Dunn dropped 17 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals on 6-of-11 shooting and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. 

4.) Successful Samanic Debut
Regarding debuts, Luka Samanic couldn't have had a better one for the Jazz. Signed to a 10-day contract earlier this week, Samanic had just 24 hours with the team before checking into the game late in the first quarter on Wednesday night. 

Although he had three fouls in the first half, he also provided a huge spark off the bench with four points, three rebounds, and one block. He again gave Utah a lift in the second half, knocking down a deep three as part of a personal 5-0 run.

He finished with nine points, nine rebounds, and four assists. He showed impressive playmaking skills, looking under control and having no issue putting the ball on the floor. Most impressively, he finished with a +14 rating in 25 minutes. 

5.) Path To The Postseason
For many reasons, Wednesday's win was arguably Utah's biggest of the season. Not only did they break their recent four-game losing streak, but it also allowed them to stay within striking distance of the play-in tournament with just six games remaining. 

The Jazz sit at No. 12 in the Western Conference but are just 3.5 games out of the sixth seed. While that may be a bit much of a climb, Utah is just two games out of eighth and 1.5 games out of 10th. The other good news for Utah is that they still have to face 10th-place Oklahoma City once and eighth-seeded Los Angeles twice. 

Utah is still in control of its own destiny, which is all you can ask for with less than two weeks in the regular season. 

“Just treat every game the same, like it’s our last, like it’s a playoff game. … If we come out with that mindset, we're gonna help give ourselves a chance to compete,” Horton-Tucker said.