Perfect 10: Jazz Run Their Streak to Double Digits with Comeback Win Over Spurs

February 12th, 2018 | by Steve Godfrey

Favors and the Jazz snag the win after trailing by a dozen in the 4th (Game still, AT&T SportsNet)

The San Antonio Spurs wore their camouflage jerseys in Salt Lake City Tuesday night, perhaps hoping to hide from the wreckage the Utah Jazz have laid down in the last two weeks. They nearly got away with a win, but the Jazz had other plans, squeaking out a nail-biting, come-from-behind finish for their tenth straight win, 101-99.

The game featured a little bit off everything: three point shooting, loads of defense, a blah-type third quarter, but then an exciting finish. There were highlights, clutch plays, and a final four minutes that went back-and-forth. Here’s how the game broke down by quarter. 

Q1: Jae Crowder’s Debut Adds an Unexpected Wrinkle

At the trade deadline last week, the Utah Jazz shipped Rodney Hood to Cleveland as part of a three-team transaction and received Jae Crowder in return. Crowder is a player many Jazz fans have wanted for a while because he is on a favorable contract, has a nasty competitive spirit, is the perfect modern-day 3-and-D wing, and has Utah connections. Perhaps what Jazz fans didn’t figure is that they’d also be getting a playmaking power forward for the first time in a while. 

As Crowder checked in for his first Vivint SmartHome Arena showcase, he received a thunderous applause welcoming him to Utah. Crowder returned the love by doing what he does best, plus a little more. For his career, Crowder averages 1.4 assists per game. Crowder had already doubled that average in his Jazz debut with three dimes in Portland on Sunday, including an instant connection with Gobert, to whom he delivered this nice bounce pass that led to an easy Gobert dunk. 

It looks like playmaking to Gobert might become a thing for Crowder, as he added another dish to the Stifle Tower versus the Spurs. It was obvious that Crowder could play defense, but facilitating some offense, especially big-to-big, would be a wonderful wrinkle to the Jazz offense moving forward. 

Q2: It Is ALWAYS About the Three

The Spurs are an average team when it comes to the deep bomb. For the season, they rank 16th in the league in Three-Point Field Goal Percentage at 36%. They take about 25 a game, making nine a game. During the first half Tuesday night, however, was below average. Like, way below average. 

In the first quarter, the Spurs were 1-for-7, good for 14%. Unfortunately for the visitors, it got worse during the second stanza as they took four more deep shots, but still sat with one make: 1-of-11. If you are good at math, that is converting at 9%. Nine1.

On the other end, the Jazz are top five in the league2 with about 38 percent shooting on a nightly basis. While that is only two percentage ticks above the Spurs, it pays dividends in the long run. On average the Jazz make 11 threes a game, which would give them six more points a ball game than the Spurs. In the opening quarter, they were just average: 3/9 at 33%. Yet, in the second quarter, as they made their run to take a 54-48 lead, it was because of the three ball. The Jazz finished the first half 8-for-16 from deep, dead even at 50%. Ingles was 3/5, including a triple off a Rudy Gobert-led fast break. Yes, you read that right.

To recap:

  • Rudy steal
  • Rudy fastbreak
  • Rudy assist to Ingles in the corner
  • Catch-and-shoot 3
*loud noises*
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 13, 2018

Q3: The Spurs’ Run

Kristen Kenney came out of halftime reporting the message by Quin and staff at intermission was that the Jazz needed to do better protecting the paint as the Spurs had outscored the Jazz 32-22  down low.

The message from Snyder didn’t resonate as the third quarter the massacre continued. By the end of the third, the differential was 44-28, which means the Spurs doubled up on Utah 12-6. Pau Gasol, in his five millionth season, was able to direct offense against Derrick Favors, but didn’t have as good of luck one-on-one against Gobert. 


Favors had 11 points, but was a -16 from the floor before saving his best for the fourth quarter. Gobert was barely a positive at this point, +2, in part because the Spurs could get into the paint and make easier buckets. The guards were sprinting into the lane and the bigs were excelling with their back to the basket. Joffrey Lauvergne had 10 off the bench, Davis Bertans and Kyle Anderson added 10 apiece, and Pau Gasol was at 8. Those bigs were getting it done, which helped San Antonio open up a 77-69 lead. 

Q4: Defense Wins It

One thing the Spurs are definitely not average at is defense. They have the second-best defensive rating in the NBA, 101.6, and hold opponents to a 50% Effective Field Goal Percentage, good for 6th in the league. Topping it off, the Spurs lead the league in opponent points per game, at 98.1. They grind it out and get ‘er done. 

It doesn’t matter that Kawhi Leonard has only played in nine games this year or that Rudy Gay is hurt, too.  It doesn’t matter that LaMarcus Aldridge was held out for rest and rehab. What matters is that Coach Pop gets his teams to play defense and that sure made life difficult for the Jazz. It seemed, for most of the game, that defense for the Spurs would win it. 

News flash: the Jazz are pretty good defensively, too. 

With six minutes left in the game and the Jazz trailing by double-digits, the pick and roll started working on offense. Specifically, Derrick Favors started working. Favors finished with 19 points, on six made baskets, and eight rebounds, but it was his buckets in crunch time that helped the Jazz get back in it. Ingles found something with Favors on the roll and it was near automatic for three minutes. Favors was doing so well that Quin decided to leave Gobert on the bench and let Favors do it on both ends. 

And boy, did he.

With the Spurs looking for a good shot to get the win, Favors emphatically said no with a rejection, one of his four on the night. It seemed like the play that won it for the Jazz, but that’s not considering anything Mitchell did. In fact, Mitchell and Favors combined for the team’s last 17 points, but Favors’ heroic play in the final period earned him the game ball.

What’s Next?

The Jazz will take their ten-game win streak to the test against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, the day of love. Should they get the win, the Jazz would be arguably the hottest team going into All-Star weekend. As it stands, Utah sits 1.5 games back of the final playoff spot, but only 3 games back of the 5th seed.

Simply: they are roaring hot right now. A favorable schedule is forthcoming with 15 home games to 10 road games left that experts peg as the 5th easiest schedule remaining in the NBA. Could they get Dante Exum back soon? Is Rudy healthy and leading the revolution? Is Quin Snyder a genius? Can Mitchell snag that ROY award? 

Even simpler: optimism and hope are back in the vocabulary of the Jazz. 

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: 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.


  1. Paul Johnson says:

    Perhaps the Spurs are about to pass the baton back to the Jazz.

    We have all heard Greg Popovich talk about how he patterned his Spurs after the Jerry Sloan/John Stockton/Karl Malone era Jazz–and then came up with his own version of a team with almost perfect execution.

    We have all heard Dennis Lindsey and Quin Snyder shamelessly talk about how they have patterned this version of the Jazz after the Spurs–with their own spin on how to do that. In the next 10 years it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Jazz become the new age version of Spursian execution, but with the Jazz’s own unique twist on how to do it–similar to how the Spurs imitated the Jazz in order to become a dynasty for the last 15 or so years.

    • Spencer says:


      I definitely see a very strong culture and very talented coaching. It really is night and day with the Jazz organization vs organizations such as, well anyone except San Antonio, Golden State and Boston really with maybe Toronto Portland and OKC thrown in there. I believe people can feel the difference.

      The Jazz have done an amazing job getting players who do not disrupt that culture.

      • Steve says:

        Spencer: The Jazz really do hold an advantage when it comes to front office organization and stability. Look at Jae Crowder’s recent comments about coming from CLE to here and how different things are. We have a good thing, for sure.

    • Steve says:

      That would be awesome to see the Jazz replicate what they have going for a decade, and have the consistency and reputation that SA has. I never thought I’d see a day where the Jazz own a 3-0 season series over SA. We never could beat them, ever.

  2. Steve says:

    That would be awesome to see the Jazz replicate what they have going for a decade, and have the consistency and reputation that SA has. I never thought I’d see a day where the Jazz own a 3-0 season series over SA. We never could beat them, ever.

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