Spurs Will Pay Later for Inexplicable Loss To Jazz, Series Sweep

Robert Kleeman@@RobertKleemanSenior Analyst IJanuary 21, 2010

The good news: Tim Duncan did not reach the 20,000-point milestone on such a dreary, disgusting night.

The bad news: The Utah Jazz swept a season series against the San Antonio Spurs for the first time in the Duncan era. They had not accomplished this feat since the 1993-1994 season.

What adjectives could I use to sum up the Spurs 105-98 home loss to the Jazz?

Caustic, horrid, damaging, you get the idea.

In a real head-scratcher, San Antonio failed to defeat a Utah squad it had owned at the AT&T Center for duration of the 2000s.

After an initial blowout in Salt Lake City, the other three matches this year came down to the final minutes. In a surprise and inexplicable turn, the Jazz emerged from all four bouts as the victor.

Duncan scored a measly 14 points, leaving him at 19,999 for his career. He will get another shot to become the 35th player in NBA history to reach the aforementioned mark against the Houston Rockets on Friday.

If Gregg Popovich wants to know where to focus his post-game tirade, he should start with the beginning. In a game the Spurs had to have, they missed eight of nine shots to open and allowed the Jazz to coast to an early 12-3 lead.

Then, San Antonio blitzed Utah with a stunning 25-0 run to seize control...for a few minutes.

That one burst of life and competitive fire was all she wrote for the home team.

Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer each poured in more than 25 points, a sign of how the series has changed.

The guys in white can blame some of their newfound woes against the Jazz on the above frontcourt players plus Mehmet Okur deciding to make their contested jumpshots.

Those looks were available three years ago in the Western Conference Finals, and Jerry Sloan's bunch could not knock them down.

There were also far too many layups, dunks, and ticky-tack fouls. The refs did not err. The Spurs just played matador defense.

When they watch film sometime tomorrow, they should be disgusted and embarrassed.

This was not an effort worthy of any praise on a night when San Antonio sorely needed one.

I find it hard to believe this deflating loss will not cost the Spurs down the road.

They will pay for Wednesday's abomination, and Dallas is just one reason.

The Mavericks averted a potential crisis in fending off the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center by a point on Wednesday evening.

The Spurs cannot expect their in-state rivals to give away the Southwest Division.

The Rockets invade San Antonio on Friday in search of the same aggression and competitiveness that characterized their winningest December ever.

That battle will not be won with any ease.

Seeding in the West is tenuous, and the Spurs can ill-afford to lose any more home games for the rest of the year. Yes, it matters that much.

The worst part of Wednesday's unforgettable bomb was Utah's 29-point third quarter.

Now would be as good a time as any for Popovich to tell his players the "defense sucks."

Duncan fouled out with 30 seconds remaining, his 4-for-14 outing a big reason for San Antonio's struggles, and the Spurs trailed by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter of, yes, a game they had to have.

What else can I write about a disgusting night?

Only that it will hurt much more later.


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