Parker's 28 lead Spurs to win in playoff opener against Jazz

Parker's 28 lead Spurs to win in playoff opener against Jazz

Credit: Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 29: Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs takes a shot against Al Jefferson #25 of the Utah Jazz in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 29, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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by Associated Press

kens5.com

Posted on April 29, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 8:22 AM

SAN ANTONIO -- Tony Parker scored 28 points and the San Antonio Spurs won their first playoff opener in four years, beating the Utah Jazz 106-91 in Game 1 of their first-round series Sunday.

Tim Duncan added 17 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Spurs dodge another early playoff letdown. Despite boasting the No. 1 seed again, San Antonio hadn't won a Game 1 in its last six postseason series -- including the one that began a shocking first-round ouster last year.

Paul Millsap led Utah with 20 points. The Jazz hung close until the third, when the NBA's top 3-point shooting team began burying Utah with three in a two-minute burst to finish the quarter.

The Spurs have won 11 in a row.

Game 2 is Wednesday in San Antonio.

Gordon Hayward scored 17 points and Al Jefferson had 16 for the Jazz. It was Utah's first playoff game without coach Jerry Sloan since 2008, but the younger Jazz couldn't take advantage of their bigger frontcourt.

The Spurs hadn't won a playoff opener since beating Phoenix in double-overtime in 2008. That was also around the last time that the Spurs entered the playoffs as healthy as they are now, though they didn't leave this game entirely scot-free.

Center Tiago Splitter sprained his left wrist and didn't return after scoring four points in 8 minutes. The severity of the injury wasn't immediately known, but even with arguably the deepest Spurs team in the Duncan era, San Antonio would sorely miss their 7-footer.

Parker shook off a slow start to shoot 10 of 19 from the floor. He also had eight assists in his best playoff game since scoring 43 against Dallas in 2009.

The Jazz may be bigger, but are well short on playoff experience compared to the Spurs. To that end, Utah coach Tyrone Corbin put Josh Howard back in the starting lineup for Game 1, even though the Jazz rolled into the postseason winners of five in a row with DeMare Carroll at small forward.

Howard had knee surgery in March and returned Tuesday against Phoenix. Whatever concerns Corbin harbored of Howard disrupting Utah's recent chemistry were allayed by his six playoff stints in Dallas, including his starting role in the Mavericks' run to the 2006 NBA Finals.

"There was no apprehension," Corbin said before tipoff. "We know who he is. We're going to need all the experience we can get."

Yet Howard didn't deliver any instant veteran dividend. He was 0 for 4 and played 16 minutes, sitting out much of the second half.

The Spurs made their own lineup tweak. Boris Diaw started alongside Duncan in the frontcourt, making for a pairing that undersized San Antonio could stick with for the playoffs. Diaw arrived in San Antonio in March with a dismal defensive reputation, but coach Gregg Popovich said before the game that his newest big man has turned out to be a better than first thought.

Not that Diaw's scoring touch wasn't needed. While Duncan labored through a rough first half -- scoring 7 points on 3 of 8 shooting, including Derrick Favors eliciting more than few "oohs" for swatting one of Duncan's would-be dunks -- Diaw also scored 7 in the half while missing just one shot.

Duncan, who turned 36 this week, finally found his groove in the second half. He was 7 of 14 from the floor in his first game in nearly a week after Popovich gave his Big Three an extended rest to ensure their health for the playoffs.

Notes: The Jazz fell to 1-4 against the Spurs this year, with their only win coming in Salt Lake City when Duncan, Ginobili and Parker didn't play. ...The Jazz shot 4 of 13 from behind the 3-point line.

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