|2:00 PM PT3:00 PM MT4:00 PM CT5:00 PM ET22:00 GMT6:00 3:00 PM MST5:00 PM EST2:00 UAE (+1)23:0017:00 ET4:00 PM CTNaN:� , February 9, 2019
Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah Attendance: 18,306
Jazz hoping 2nd-half momentum carries vs. Spurs
San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz
- The Spurs have lost three games in a row, allowing an average of 131.7 points in the losses. The 395 points allowed by San Antonio over this span are the most that the team has allowed over any three-game span under Gregg Popovich.
- The Jazz have alternated wins and losses over their last five games, most recently beating the Suns, 116-88, on Wednesday. Utah limited Phoenix to three made three-pointers in the win, the fewest the team has allowed in a game this season.
- DeMar DeRozan scored a team-high 35 points last game without attempting a single three-pointer. DeRozan has an NBA-high three games this season with 35+ points and zero three-point attempts. LaMarcus Aldridge has the second-most such games this season with two.
- Donovan Mitchell is averaging 26.5 points and 5.2 assists since January 1. Mitchell has nine games with at least 25 points and five assists since January 1, tied with Bradley Beal for second most in the NBA over that time -- only James Harden (14) has more such games entering play on Friday.
- Rudy Gay is shooting 55.0 percent on two-point shots and 43.0 percent on three-pointers this season. The only other player in the NBA shooting at least 55.0 percent on two-pointers and 40.0 percent on three-pointers this season is Stephen Curry (min. 500 field-goal attempts).
- The Spurs and Jazz have split two games so far this season, each winning a game on their home court. Utah has won four home games in a row over San Antonio -- the Jazz last won five home games in a row against the Spurs from January 1993 -- April 1994.
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Can the Utah Jazz repeat history and build momentum over the second half of the season for a second straight season?
The Jazz are certainly trending in that direction heading into Saturday's clash with the San Antonio Spurs. Utah has won 13 of 18 games since the start of January -- including nine of 11 at in Salt Lake City. It is one reason the Jazz didn't make a move amid the league-wide trading frenzy before the NBA trade deadline passed on Thursday.
Defense is making the difference as usual. Over the last 15 games, the Jazz have posted a 105.5 defensive rating -- ranking second among NBA teams. Utah's defensive tenacity showed in the fourth quarter of a 116-88 victory over Phoenix on Wednesday.
The Jazz held the Suns to 17 points in the final quarter. Phoenix scored just four baskets over the final nine minutes to enable Utah to pull away after the Suns kept it close for three quarters.
"End of the third and start of the fourth, we were able to lock in and make it a bit tough on them," forward Joe Ingles said. "Which, obviously, we should have tried to do from the start of the game."
Utah's defense makes significantly easier on offense when it is operating at peak efficiency. The Jazz have shot 50 percent or better from the floor in each of their last three victories and have allowed only three opponents to shoot better than 50 percent since the start of January.
Utah is 42-1 at home since November 5, 2014 when shooting at least 50 percent from the field.
"It is a mix of everything," center Rudy Gobert said. "Communication is the thing that keeps us connected."
San Antonio could use a dose of positive momentum before the NBA All-Star break. The Spurs have been staggering to the break after enduring a slew of ragged defensive performances.
A 127-118 loss to Portland on Thursday dropped San Antonio to 0-3 on its current road trip. It is the first time that the Spurs have opened their traditional mid-February rodeo road trip with three straight losses.
The culprit is porous defense. San Antonio is allowing opponents to score 59.3 points in the paint and 34.3 fastbreak points per game over the team's last three contests. That's last among all NBA teams in both categories over that stretch.
"We're scoring enough points to win games," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News on Thursday. "The defensive end is what's let us down. That's where our emphasis is."
Utah torched San Antonio's defense for 48 minutes when the Spurs last visited Salt Lake City on Dec. 4. The Jazz raced to a 139-105 victory to earn their fourth straight home win over San Antonio.
Seven Utah players scored in double figures in the contest -- led by Donovan Mitchell with 20 points. The Jazz set season highs in field-goal percentage (60.7) after making 51 of 84 shots. Utah also set a franchise record for 3-pointers made, connecting on 20-of-33 (60.6) attempts from the perimeter.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 8, 2019