Spurs 102, Jazz 93

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SAN ANTONIO (AP)—Spurs coach Gregg Popovich uttered a word you don’t hear him use often.

“I’m thrilled,” he said after San Antonio’s 102-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

“It was a fine win for us. A good performance from beginning to end against a very, very good basketball team that we respect very much.”

Reserve Manu Ginobili scored 25 points in the Spurs’ sixth straight victory. Tony Parker added 23 points and 11 assists, Tim Duncan had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Michael Finley had 12 points as San Antonio snapped Utah’s three-game winning streak. The Spurs have won 16 straight at home against the Jazz.

Both the Jazz and Spurs have clinched playoff spots, with San Antonio in third place in the Western Conference and Utah in fourth. The Jazz fell five games behind the Spurs heading into the final 10 games of the season.

Popovich also sang the praises of several Spurs players, including Duncan, calling him a “quarterback.”

“It was tough for him to score too much because they were coming at him so hard, doubling him at times—most of the time,” Popovich said. “But he found people every place on the court, giving everybody open shots every place.”

Duncan said he was only doing his job in finding open players.

“We got some great shots out of it,” he said.

Deron Williams led Utah with 23 points, followed by Carlos Boozer with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Mehmet Okur had 16 points and 11 rebounds.

“They play beautiful basketball,” Williams said. “We can learn a lot from a team like this. They way they share the ball, the way they’re unselfish.”

All five Jazz starters scored in double digits, but their bench produced just 10 points.

“We were prepared for a lot of their shooters coming off the bench,” Spurs forward Bruce Bowen said. “But sometimes a guy’s not hot when he comes off the bench.”

And sometimes, like Ginobili, he is. Ginobili scored half of the Spurs’ 50 bench points.

“We couldn’t deal with him,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “It doesn’t make any difference what they do. They stay with what they’re going to do. They get the kind of shots they want to get almost every possession.”

Derek Fisher added 15 points for the Jazz and Andrei Kirilenko had 11.

Kirilenko jammed his right thumb and was taken out in the third quarter. He played more than 9 1/2 minutes in the fourth. X-rays following the game were negative and the Jazz said he’s probable for Sunday’s game in Houston.

Kirilenko said he was proud of Utah’s effort.

“For the most part we fight and we fight hard,” he said. “Sometimes we kind of lost concentration.”

There were five ties and four lead changes in the first half. But the Spurs pulled away toward the end of the second quarter and had their biggest lead of the half, 12 points, at the break.

The Spurs took the lead for good with 8:49 left in the second quarter on Duncan’s layup and extended it to as much as 16.

“We went through stretches where it didn’t look like we believed we could win,” Sloan said. “So we started just taking a couple of shots rather than try to execute.”

And while the Jazz got as close as six in the fourth, San Antonio kept a comfortable lead as Parker and Ginobili contorted and twisted their way to the basket for several scores.

“Today, a couple of crazy layups went in,” Ginobili said. “Against those guys you need to make some of those. It’s really hard to penetrate against these guys.”

Finley helped out from 3-point range, hitting one from the corner with 2:56 left to give San Antonio a 97-84 lead. It was his fourth 3 of the game, as he went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.

Notes

Jazz F Matt Harpring was out Friday with a stomach virus. … Spurs F Robert Horry, who has been bothered by an abdominal contusion, went to the bench during the third quarter and did not return. … The Spurs were 6-of-15 (40 percent) from 3-point range, compared to 3-of-12 (25 percent) for Utah. … The teams split this season’s games 2-2.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Utah
C. Boozer C. Boozer
8-15,  18 Pts
10 Rebs, 4 Assists
 San Antonio
M. Ginobili M. Ginobili
10-16,  25 Pts
6 Rebs, 4 Assists

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Rebounds
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Friday, Mar 30