David Flores Reports

Find posts by keyword
Find posts by date


Spurs work on improving rebounding, transition defense against Jazz

Spurs work on improving rebounding, transition defense against Jazz

Credit: David Flores / Kens5.com

Tim Duncan, pictured talking to reporters after Monday's workout, scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Spurs' 106-91 victory against Utah in their playoff opener Sunday.

by David Flores / Kens5.com


Posted on May 1, 2012 at 6:58 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 1 at 8:38 AM

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn't mince words Monday when he was asked what his team focused on in practice a day after beating the Utah Jazz 106-91 in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

"Same as always when we play Utah," Popovich said. "A lot of it's about the boards. We need to do a better job on the big guys, without a doubt. I think our transition defense was poor. Those two areas are what we have to concentrate on or we'll have problems."

The Jazz outrebounded the Spurs 45-39 and finished with a 23-16 edge in fast-break points, but the Silver & Black outscored Utah 58-44 in the paint en route to winning their 11th consecutive game.

Game 2 of the Western Conference series is at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the AT&T Center.

The Spurs, seeded No. 1 in the West, have won 25 of its last 28 games, but they remain wary of the No. 8 Jazz. Utah trailed by only eight points with 7:31 left Sunday before the Spurs pulled away.

"They got a bit more than we wanted to give up," Spurs captain Tim Duncan said. "Transition defense is what we're going to focus on this next game. With their size, they're effective on the offensive glass.

"We have to keep them off of that, and keep those points away as much as possible and make them work for everything they get. We clean those two things up and I think we're going to be better off."

Popovich: Splitter probably doubtful for Game 2

Point guard Tony Parker had his best playoff game since 2009 in the playoff opener, finishing with 28 points and eight assists. Duncan added 17 points and led both teams in rebounds with 11.

"I felt a bit rusty at first, but obviously, a great result," Duncan said. "A good team game all around. I thought we had our rhythm and moved the ball very well. Tony obviously played well and really carried us. We think we have some improving to do, obviously, and we can play a lot better, but a great start for us."

Popovich said backup center Tiago Splitter, who sprained his left wrist in the first half and didn't return to the game, probably won't play in Game 2.

"They've got in some sort of a cast right now, and I think something we won't be able to tell, very honestly, until Wednesday," Popovich said. "I'd say he'd probably be doubtful."

If Splitter can't go, DeJuan Blair will back up Boris Diaw at the center spot.

"Pop will work it out," Duncan said. "We have DeJuan there and DeJuan's been great for us all year long playing in that position and he's ready to go."

It's no secret that if the Jazz hope to make it a long series, they'll have to find a way to stop Parker from getting to the rim. After Parker pretty much had his way against starter Devin Harris and Jamaal Tinsley, there's speculation that Jazz coach may put 6-foot-8 forward Gordon Hayward on him.

Jackson: Jazz could consider kidnapping Parker to stop him

"He's seen just about everything," Duncan said of Parker. "If they decide to put some size on him, it doesn't change our game in any way. We'll play the exact same way. Tony is a smart enough player to figure it out."

Popovich joined Duncan in praising Parker, who hit 10 of 19 field-goal attempts in Game 1.

"People have done a lot of different things to stop him," Popovich said. "Some have been successful and some haven't been. He's pretty good at adjusting and realizing what needs to be done and what he's done great this year is making decisions between scoring and involving other people. I think he'll continue to do that in the playoffs."

"This has been his best season, both offensively and defensively, and leadership-wise, being demanding of his teammates and understanding situations, talking to guys in timeouts. He's been very focused all year long."

Spurs swingman Stephen Jackson drew laughs from the media Monday when he was asked what the Jazz could do to stop Parker.

"Maybe kidnap him," Jackson said. "I don't think there's any legal way you can stop him. Tony has been great. He's one of the guys in a zone right now. He's been in a zone all year. I tell him before every game, 'We go as far as you go. You start off with that energy and tempo, we're going to be all right.'

"Tim has been the leader of our team, but Tony has definitely been leading us this year. We just need him to continue being that person."

Spurs not looking ahead

The Spurs' victory Sunday was their first in a playoff opener since 2008, snapping a streak of six series in which they lost Game 1. Of course, a San Antonio loss Wednesday night would shift the homecourt advantage to the Jazz.

"You want to defend your homecourt in those first two games, and do the best that you can," Duncan said. "We understand the importance of it."

Manu Ginobili said the Spurs know they still face a formidable challenge despite winning Game 1.

"Every game is huge in the playoffs," Ginobili said. "You never want to give up anything. After the first good game we played, we've got to really take care of business at home. It's a completely different story going to Utah 2-0 instead of 1-1. We've been through that a million times, so hopefully we improve our game and don't make as many mistakes and don't let them run as much and play even better offense."

Jackson, who played on the Spurs' 2003 NBA championship team before returning to San Antonio in a trade this spring, said this season's squad reminds him of the one that won it all nine years ago.

"What I see is ultimate focus," Jackson said. "Nobody is talking about the next series. Everybody is focused on what's in front of us. Guys don't really go in the locker room and say, 'Man, we've got a good chance to win the championship.' That's not the attitude of this team. Everybody is still worrying about getting past Utah. I think that's great.

"Last time I was here, we had a good feeling about winning a championship, but we were the same way. We didn't talk about it. We had a great group of vets with Steve Kerr, Kevin Willis, Danny Ferry and Steve Smith. Those guys kept us humble, and we always respected our opponent. I think we're doing the same now."