Utah 102 at San Antonio 111

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Spurs beat reeling Jazz for 4th straight win
By PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press Sunday, Apr 10, 2011

SAN ANTONIO (AP)—Richard Jefferson(notes) said the San Antonio Spurs want to finish with the NBA’s best record. Then someone told him how many more victories it could take to assure that.

“We got to win two more?” Jefferson said.

They’ll try, but the Spurs have other priorities.

Jefferson scored 20 points and the Spurs, mindful of the playoffs starting next weekend, won their fourth in a row while starting to rest some players in a 111-102 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

San Antonio (61-19) has already locked up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and, with two games left, are 1 1/2 games ahead of Chicago for the NBA’s best record. Tim Duncan(notes), Manu Ginobili(notes) and Tony Parker(notes) all started and played more than 20 minutes while Antonio McDyess(notes) got the night off.

Coach Gregg Popovich said he’s “certainly not going to overplay anybody” with the playoffs starting next week but also doesn’t want to fall out of rhythm..

“We’ve played this well all season long we’d love to finish out atop the NBA,” said Duncan, who had 10 points. “We’re going to try to do the best of managing minutes and winning games and doing that all at the same time.”

Al Jefferson(notes) scored 23 points as the Jazz lost for the 10th time in 11 games, unable to pull a second upset this week after beating the Los Angeles Lakers.

That stunner Wednesday is what clinched the fifth No. 1 seed for the Spurs in the Tim Duncan era. The Spurs visit the Lakers on Tuesday, but with little at stake, the game hardly figures to be a potential Western Conference finals preview.

The Jazz, who won’t be in the playoffs for the first time in five years, just want to get through their season finale Wednesday.

Coach Tyrone Corbin had only 10 healthy players and guessed it might stay that way in their final two games. Derrick Favors(notes) scored 17 points and Paul Millsap(notes) added 16.

“We gotta finish this season with our head up high and have some pride for ourselves. We just ain’t going out here and lay down,” Al Jefferson said. “We’re going to play hard. I really thought we had a chance to win the game tonight. We just made too many mistakes.”

Ginobili had 12 points in 27 minutes and Parker had 13 in 29 minutes. Both played into the fourth when the Jazz crept within single digits.

Utah trailed by 11 at halftime but quickly fell behind in the third, when San Antonio stretched the lead to 17 while shooting 12 of 15 from the field.

Richard Jefferson put together his first 20-point game since November by shooting 6 of 10 from the field and hitting four 3-pointers. His most memorable play, however, came on an alley-oop dunk from Gary Neal(notes) moments after George Hill(notes) wowed the crowd with an impressive one-handed dunk over Earl Watson(notes).

Who the Spurs will meet in the first round is still up in the air. Memphis held the No. 8 seed on Saturday but was a game behind New Orleans, which faces the Grizzlies on Sunday. Portland, currently holding the No. 6 spot, could also drop to the final slot.

“You take whoever comes,” Jefferson said.

Devin Harris(notes) added 13 points for Utah on just 3 of 11 shooting. He also took two tumbles into the front row, the second time into a young fan. A member of the Spurs’ training staff went over to check on the boy, who appeared to be OK.

Harris gave the boy a token of apology: his wristband.

NOTES: Popovich needs three wins to reach 800 with the Spurs. … San Antonio swept the season series 3-0 over Utah. … The Spurs must win their final two games (Lakers, Phoenix) to match their franchise-record 63 wins set in 2005-06.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Utah
A. Jefferson Al Jefferson
10-15,  23 Pts
8 Rebs, 1 Assists
 San Antonio
R. Jefferson Richard Jefferson
6-10,  20 Pts
4 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

Scoreboard

Saturday, Apr 9