Hood’s Hot Fourth Quarter Spurs Jazz Past San Antonio

December 22nd, 2017 | by Steve Godfrey

Hood led the Jazz with 29. (Game still, TNT)

The San Antonio Spurs visited the Utah Jazz on Thursday night without two starters and with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker on minute limitations. Knowing what it feels like to be riddled with injuries and short-staffed, the Jazz didn’t send any sympathy cards or fruit baskets. Instead, they sent a hot Rodney Hood into action to take a 100-89 win over San Antonio.

The Opening

The Spurs and the Jazz were both coming off games the night before, which was apparent for one team but not for the other. After the Jazz were blitzed by the Thunder on Wednesday, they looked more energetic and active early in the game against the Spurs. Hood put up the first points, a three, and then Derrick Favors, in his best one-eyed pirate impression1, added back-to-back dunks after hustling for second chance rebounds. Jonas Jerebko, after being reinserted into the starting lineup, took a turn with back-to-back buckets to give the Jazz a quick 11-8 lead. Utah started 1-for-7 from the field but then went 9-of-12 to get a 22-16 lead. The Spurs experienced a very un-Spurslike stretch, missing 10 of their last 11 in the opening quarter, leading to a 13-5 run in the Jazz’s favor and a 24-17 lead for the home team.

The Threes

The run continued in the Jazz’s favor in the second stanza, with Ricky Rubio hitting a three to extend the lead 30-17. Threes were the story of the quarter as the Jazz went 5-for-7 from deep in the quarter, while the Spurs went 2/10. Threes make or break a game for Utah, as they make 11.5 threes a night (sixth best in the NBA) and connect on 38 percent of their attempts (third in the league). When they are rolling, like a fat dog down a hill,  it’s fun to watch. Case in point: a Jerebko block on one end led to a fast-break triple from Hood on the other giving the Jazz a 42-29 lead midway through the second.

The Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge averages 22 points a game for the Spurs, up five points from last year. More importantly, he has led the Spurs in scoring 27 times this season, the most any player has led team in the NBA. After requesting a trade, wanting to get out and move on, Aldridge has adjusted which has been crucial for the Spurs as they’ve navigated through injuries and inconsistent lineup variations.

To start the third, Aldridge made some noise to help the Spurs roar out in an  11-1 run, highlighted by six from the big fella. The Spurs kept hanging around, but turnovers and missed open looks kept the Spurs from taking further advantage of the Jazz’s equally sloppy play. Joe Johnson (year 17) versus Rudy Gay (year 12) provided some fun 2008 rematches. However, three threes from Patty Mills, plus a Kyle Anderson scoop-and-score buzzer beater cut the lead 72-70, making the score too close for comfort heading into the fourth.

The Smoke From the Hood

The Jazz, historically, can’t seem to get past the Spurs. The Jazz went 9-34 against San Antonio in the 2000s, and so far in the 2010s they are 10-23. Jazz coach Quin Snyder must’ve been sweating in his slim suit as something he said prior to the fourth lit a fire to get his guys back beyond the arc. Alec Burks nailed a three to start the quarter and then Jinglin’ Joe Ingles hit his first points of the game, another Jazz three, to give the Jazz a 78-70 cushion two minutes into the finale.

And then Rodney Hood happened. Hood averages 17.6 a game but was smooth and efficient throughout the night starting in place of the injured Donovan Mitchell. He even saved his best for last. Hood’s four minute sequence gave Utah a 93-83 lead with four minutes left: a tough drive and lay in, then a turn around jumper, and then a contested, fade away, as time expired three-point jumper and a spin shimmy floater.  As TNT announcer Brian Anderson remarked, “There is smoke coming from under that Hood!”

Soon thereafter, Aldridge fouled out (11 points, 6 rebounds), Ingles hit another three, and the Jazz ended their three-game losing streak, while adding a notch to San Antonio victory count. Hood was the leading scorer with 29 points on 12-of-23 shooting and Rubio led the team in rebounds, with 11, while adding in 11 points and seven assists. As a team, the Jazz finished 12-for-26 from deep, at 46 percent shooting, which is right at their lucky spot.

The Jazz will stay in Salt Lake City and see if home cooking can continue their way in a matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.

 

Steve Godfrey

Steve studied journalism and English, and now teaches high school in Northern Utah. He started his own website and writes about being a Tortured Jazz fan at: http://www.thetorturedfan.com/. He joined the Salt City Hoops team at the start of the 2017-18 season to connect with more Jazz fans and to continue to apply his passion for writing and for basketball.

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