The last time the Utah Jazz beat the San Antonio Spurs in Texas, Karl Malone led them to victory. Three years after Malone’s final season, the Jazz look to end their drought at San Antonio when they take on the Spurs at the AT&T Center on Thursday.
Utah (21-8) has dropped 14 straight road games against the Spurs by an average margin of 15.2 points. The last Jazz victory in San Antonio came 101-87 on May 2, 1999, as Malone scored 30 points and Tim Duncan had 21 to lead the Spurs.
This year’s Jazz are coming off a 102-92 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. Mehmet Okur scored 24 points, including eight in the critical final two minutes, while Carlos Boozer added 26 points and 10 rebounds and Deron Williams had 21 points.
The game was the first back in Utah following a five-game road trip. Following Thursday’s contest in Phoenix, the Jazz play two more home games before playing seven of the following nine on the road.
“We had a long road trip so to come home and get this home cooking and have the fans go crazy for us and get a big win here, it sets the tone for the rest of the week,” Boozer said.
Forward Andrei Kirilenko left Tuesday’s game with a mild concussion, but is expected to play Thursday. Utah is seeking to win its third straight game for the first time since a season-high eight-game run from Nov. 10-24.
Duncan and San Antonio are trying to avoid seeing a long run of home domination end for the second straight contest. The Spurs lost 114-107 to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday—San Antonio’s first home loss to the Bucks in five years. Duncan led the Spurs with 25 points.
San Antonio (21-8) was outscored 76-40 in the paint and allowed Milwaukee to shoot 68 percent in the final period, leaving coach Gregg Popovich frustrated with his defense.
“They scored enough points to win three games,” Popovich said. “This is our worst defensive team in the last seven to eight years.
“Our players need to make up their minds … that (defense) is what wins games for us, or if they want to make summer plans.”
Despite the loss, San Antonio has won 10 of its last 13 games.
The Spurs played without Manu Ginobili and Brent Barry, who were both at home because of the stomach flu. Tony Parker initially helped pick up the slack, scoring 22 points in the first half, but he was held to just two after the break.
Ginobili is listed as probable for Thursday. He is averaging 14.5 points in 15 career games against the Jazz, but did not play in the Spurs’ 83-75 loss on Nov. 29 because of a bruised lower back. Duncan scored 21 points for San Antonio in that game while Boozer led Utah with 23 points.