SAN ANTONIO -- Remember former Spurs guard George Hill, who was traded to Indiana on the night of the 2011 NBA draft for Kawhi Leonard, Davis Bertans and someone named Erazem Lorbek?
Hill played five seasons for Indiana before getting traded this July to the Utah Jazz, who handed the Spurs their first loss of the season Tuesday night at the AT&T Center. The teams will play again Friday night in Salt Lake City.
Hill tormented his former team, finishing with a team-high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 3 of 5 from the 3-point line, and dishing out seven assists in the Jazz's 106-91 victory.
Kawhi Leonard had a game-high 30 points, nailing 10 of 18 shots, 5 of 7 from the 3-point line. He also had seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Utah (2-2) torched the Silver and Black (4-1) from the 3-point line, burying 15 of 31 attempts. The Jazz shot a scorching 72.2 percent in the first quarter, going 13 of 18 overall and making 7 of 8 treys to take a 38-28 lead into the second period. Utah shot 50 percent (38/76) from the field for the game.
"I thought we started out pretty unaggressive for whatever reason," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I think that they shot several unconstested shots. I thought we followed them around, so to speak. We just reacted to their offense."
The loss at home was a comedown for the Spurs, who went 39-0 at home last season before losing their first game at the AT&T Center on April 10. They finished 40-1 on their home court, tying the NBA record set by the 1985-86 Boston Celtics. The Silver and Black also missed their opportunity to become the first team in franchise history to start a season 5-0.
Hill was at his best down the stretch, scoring eight points to help Utah break away after Spurs center Pau Gasol scored on a tip dunk to cut the Jazz's lead to 88-86 with 5:24 left.
After Gasol responded with another basket to trim the deficit to 91-88, Hill scored on a pull-up 15-foot jumper to put the Jazz up by five. When the Spurs were unable to answer on their next possession, Hill put Utah up 96-88 when he completed a 3-point play after scoring on a layup.
"He played great, especially down the stretch," Popovich said. "He was very controlled, ran the show, obviously made shots. He was great."
Hill always has enjoyed a warm relationship with Popovich, who often has said that Hill was one of his favorite players.
"I just told him I love him, like always," Hill said, when asked what he told Popovich at Tuesday's game. "Pop is one of the best people that has ever come into my life."
Hill and his teammates pretty much had their way with the Spurs' characteristically aggressive defense.
"We definitely allowed them to play too comfortable and let them get into a rhythm early on," Gasol said. "They were executing well, give them credit, but we didn't put enough pressure on their offense to force them to take tougher shots."
Forward Joe Ingles nailed Utah's eighth 3-pointer to give the Jazz their largest lead of the game, 47-31, with nine minutes left in the first half, but the Spurs went on a 17-1 run to tie the score at 48 on a bucket by LaMarcus Aldridge. But the Silver and Black were unable to get over the proverbial hump. Utah regained its bearings and took a 54-50 lead into the locker room at intermission.
The Spurs led briefly in the third quarter, but Shelvin Mack put Utah up for good when he scored on a layup that made it 65-63 with 4:12 left.
"We got back in the game somewhere there in the second quarter," Popovich said. "And then the third, I thought we became a little bit more aggressive, and got in passing lanes and played more aggressively at the defensive end. That got us back in the game.
"Now it's just a matter of who's going to make shorts or turn it over. And every time it was a one-play or two-play deal, it seemed like we'd miss a shot and they'd make one, or we'd turn it over. But overall, they outplayed us. I thought Quin's (Snyder, Utah coach) guys executed fantastically. They were aggressive the entire 48 minutes. We were in in and out in that regard and it cost us."
The Spurs outscored the Jazz 21-19 in the third quarter and trailed only 73-71 going into the final period. But every time the Silver and Black appeared ready to seize control of the game, Utah hit a big basket.
San Antonio shot 43.4 percent (33/76) overall and was 6 of 20 from 3-point range.
Aldridge finished with 21 points and was the only other Spur besides Leonard who scored in double figures. Rodney Hood scored 19 points for the Jazz, followed by Jeff Withey (15) and Shelvin Mack (14).
Former Spur Boris Diaw, who was traded to Utah this summer, has a contusion in his right leg and did not play against his former team. The Spurs dealt Diaw to the Jazz to clear salary-cap room to sign free agent Pau Gasol, a six-time All-Star. Diaw had started Utah's first three games.
Here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of Tuesday night's game:
Final: Jazz 106, Spurs 91. Utah nails 15 of 31 shots from the 3-point line.
Fourth quarter (2:56): Jazz 98, Spurs 91
Fourth quarter (5:09): Jazz 88, Spurs 86.
Fourth quarter (8:51): Jazz 81, Spurs 75. Timeout.
End of third quarter: Jazz 73, Spurs 71. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge lead the Spurs with 20 and 19 points, respectively. S.A. outscored Utah 21-19 in the third period.
Third quarter (6:49): Jazz 60, Spurs 59. Marcus Aldridge completed a 3-point play to give the Silver and Black their first lead of the game (55-54), but Utah regained a slim advantage.
Halftime: Jazz 54, Spurs 50.
First-half notes: Utah converted 9 of 16 attempts from the 3-point line in the first half. The Jazz cooled off after nailing 7 of 8 long-distance attempts in the first period, making 2 of 8 in the second quarter. Utah shot 50 percent overall (18/36) in the first two quarters. The Spurs made 46.3 percent (19/41) of their shots, and were 5 of 11 from the 3-point line.
Jazz leading scorers: Rodney Hood (14), Shelvin Mack (10). Hood made 4 of 8 shots, 3 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Spurs leading scorers: Kawhi Leonard (18), LaMarcus Aldridge (10). Leonard was 7 of 9 overall and 4 of 5 from long distance.
Jazz leading rebounder: Rudy Gobert (6).
Spurs leading rebounder: Leonard (5)
Second quarter (1:37): Jazz 53, Spurs 48. The Silver and Black tied the game at 48 on a jumper by LaMarcus Aldridge, but Utah has scored the last five points. Kawhi Leonard leads the Spurs with 18 points. He has nailed 4 of 5 shots from the 3-point line.
Second quarter (4:27): Jazz 47, Spurs 44. Spurs on 13-0 run. Timeout Utah.
Second quarter (6:04): Jazz 47, Spurs 37. Kawhi Leonard buries a 3-pointer to cut Utah's lead to 10 points. Leonard has hit three treys.
Second quarter (8:53): Jazz 47, Spurs 31. Utah is torching the Silver and Black with its 3-point shooting. The Jazz have nailed 8 of 11 shots from beyond the arc.
End of first quarter: Jazz 38, Spurs 28. Utah hit 7 of 8 shots from the 3-point line. S.A. hit three from beyond the arc. Rodney Hood led the Jazz with 11 points, and was 3 for 3 from long distance. Kawhi Leonard had eight points for the Spurs and hit 2 of 3 from long distance.
First quarter (3:37): Jazz 24, Spurs 19. It's raining 3-pointers! Utah has nailed four, and S.A. has hit three.
First quarter (6:42): Jazz 17, Spurs 12. Utah has hit three 3-pointers, two from former Spurs guard George Hill. Kawhi Leonard also has two 3s for San Antonio.
Pregame notes: Starting guard Danny Green is still out with a left-quad contusion. Jonathon Simmons started in his place against Utah. Kyle Anderson subbed for Green in the Spurs' first three games . . . Former Spur Boris Diaw, who was traded to Utah this summer, has a contusion in his right leg and won't play against his former team Tuesday night. The Spurs dealt Diaw to the Jazz to clear salary-cap room to sign free agent Pau Gasol, a six-time All-Star. Diaw, from France, signed with San Antonio as a free agent on March 23, 2012, two days after being waived by Charlotte. Diaw averaged 7.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists with the Spurs. One of the more versatile players in the NBA, Diaw was highly popular with San Antonio fans. He played a key role in the Silver and Black’s dismantling of the Heat in the 2014 Finals. Diaw has started in all three Jazz games this season . . . Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was effusive in his praise of former 3-point sharpshooter Ray Allen, who retired Tuesday. "He was one of the great ones, one of the best shooters of all time," Popovich said. "Played with class, competed through his whole career. Cared about his community, hell of a guy." Asked before Tuesday night's game if he's stopped having nightmares about Allen, Popovich looked at the reporter and feigned indignation "You're a jerk," he said. "Jerk." Popovich's reply drew a hearty laugh from the media. Allen was playing with Miami in thed 2013 NBA Finals when he buried a 3-pointer that sent Game 6 against the Spurs into overtime. The Heat went on to win and then took Game 7 to claim their second consecutive league title.
SPURS GAMEDAY: Silver and Black one win from first 5-0 start
Spurs (4-0) vs. Utah Jazz (1-2)
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, AT&T Center
Spurs’ last game: Won 106-99, at Miami, Sunday
Jazz’s last game: Lost 88-75, at L.A. Clippers, Sunday
Notable: Spurs trying to start 5-0 for first time in franchise history.
SAN ANTONIO – For all the success they had during the Tim Duncan era, the Spurs never started a season 5-0 in his 19 years with the team. Fact is, the Silver and Black never have been 5-0.
That could change Tuesday night when the Spurs, 4-0 for only the second time in franchise history, host the Utah Jazz (1-2). The 2012-13 team started 4-0 before losing to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Duncan retired in July but the Spurs don’t look much different than they did last season, when they finished a franchise-record 67-15. If anything, they could be better even if they fall off last season’s torrid pace.
That the Silver and Black have won their first four games by a combined 63 points – highlighted by a 129-100 rout of two-time defending Western Conference champion Golden State in their opener – is a testament to how well they’re adapting to life without Duncan.
While it’s early and there’s going to come a time – sooner than later – when they miss Duncan’s leadership and defense – the new-look Spurs have demonstrated they still enough talent and depth to remain among the NBA’s best teams. They showed that in Miami on Sunday, when they beat the Heat without forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who sat out the game to rest a sore knee.
Pau Gasol, the Spurs’ big free-agent acquisition this summer, stepped up and had his best game in his first four starts with San Antonio, finishing with 20 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Gasol was asked about his comfort level with the team after the Silver and Black trounced New Orleans 98-79 Saturday night in San Antonio.
“Just getting more comfortable as I go,” he said. “Just trying to do my best out there, and helping in any way I can. Just trying to get a feeling for what needs to be done and how the offense works at its best. And just trying to make things easier on both ends of the court.”
While Gasol has worked on adapting to his new team, forward Kawhi Leonard has taken his game to a new level, especially on the offensive side of the court. He scored a career-high 35 points and had five steals in the victory over Golden State, and finished with 30 points and five more teals against Sacramento two nights later.
Leonard scored 16 of his team-high 20 points in the third quarter in the win over New Orleans, getting one more point than the Pelicans tallied in the period. He finished with 27 points and six assists in the 106-99 victory over Miami the next night. Leonard scored 14 of his 27 points in the final 6:04, including the last 12 for the Spurs.
Leonard’s 112 points so far this season are the most for a Spur since Tony Parker scored 133 in 2008-09, when the team stumbled out to a 1-3 start. Parker had 32, 24, 22 and 55 points in his first games that season. He had only four points in a loss to Miami two nights later.
Backup point guard Patty Mills has scored 18 points in each of his last two games. Subbing for Tony Parker in the victory over New Orleans on Saturday, Mills nailed 6 of 9 field-goal attempts and was 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. He sparked the team off the bench with nearly identical shooting percentages in Miami the next night, making 6 of 10 attempts overall and 4 of 6 from the 3-point line.
Next up for Spurs: at Utah, Friday, 8 p.m.
Next Spurs home game: vs. L.A. Clippers, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Tip-ins: Leonard set a team record by making his first 33 free-throw attempts of the season. He broke the mark set by John Paxson at the start of the 1984-85 season. Leonard has made 38 of 40 free throws (98 percent).
(© 2016 KENS)