Sunday, November 28, 2004

Spurs Sack Jazz


The San Antonio Spurs are using quick starts to finish off their foes.

Bruce Bowen fueled another early surge as the Spurs jumped to a big lead and coasted to their third straight win, a 109-76 victory over the Utah Jazz.

On Friday, the Spurs raced to a 23-6 lead in an 89-75 win at Denver. In this one, they jumped out to a demoralizing 28-10 advantage after one quarter and continued to pour it on, turning the entire second half into garbage time.

"Last night and tonight, everybody came out with focus and aggressive and ready to play," said Bowen, who scored all 11 of his points in the first half. "If we can apply the pressure, especially early, we can be a very good team."

"They started out just like I thought they would," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, whose club has lost 18 straight meetings with the Spurs. "They came out and they tried to destroy us just like they have in the past couple of years."

Friday's quick start was powered by superstar Tim Duncan, who was almost an afterthought in this one. San Antonio was carried by its role players, including Bowen, who is better known for his defense.

The swingman had a 3-pointer and jumper on consecutive possessions to make it 11-4 just over three minutes into the contest. Two baskets by Manu Ginobili helped push the lead to 20-6 midway through the period.

"Tonight the ball was distributed," Bowen said. "They were good shots and not just one person was doing it. Our offense is predicated on everybody sharing the ball and we did that early tonight and last night."

Tony Parker also scored 11 points and Ginobili added nine in a dominant first half that ended with the Spurs holding a 54-28 lead. San Antonio shot 59 percent (20-of-34) from the field while holding Utah to 30 percent (13-of-43) and two assists. The Spurs enjoyed a 9-0 advantage in fast-break points.

"That's what they're paid to do, bring their best every game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We have to be consistent on defense, but it doesn't always work out that way. It did this time."

Both teams went through the motions in the second half, when the lead stayed between 23 and 37 points. The Spurs sat their starters for virtually the entire fourth quarter.

"(Popovich) was kind in not playing their front line players, or they would have had 200 points tonight," Sloan said.

Reserve Malik Rose scored 16 points and Ginobili added 15 for San Antonio, which shot 59 percent (36-of-61), scored 20 fast-break points and had six players in double figures. Parker and Devin Brown scored 14 points each and Duncan added 12 and 13 rebounds.

Matt Harpring scored 15 points and Gordan Giricek added 14 for the Jazz, who had injury added to insult. All-Star forward Andrei Kirilenko suffered a sprained right knee early in the second quarter and did not return. There was no update on his condition.

No Spurs starter played more than 27 minutes. The bench played 118 minutes and scored 55 points.

Carlos Boozer scored just six points before fouling out for the Jazz, who have not beaten the Spurs since February 6, 2000.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Kirilenko Keeps Jazz Perfect


SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 8 (Ticker) -- Andrei Kirilenko had another complete effort, scoring 24 points and keying a critical second-quarter run, as the Utah Jazz posted a 102-91 triumph over the Denver Nuggets.

Kirilenko, who made 8-of-12 shots, grabbed six rebounds, had five blocks, four steals and four assists. The Russian forward has had a quick start to his fourth season and displayed his versatility in a 19-4 burst that gave the Jazz a 49-36 advantage midway through the second quarter.

Denver led 32-30 just 39 seconds into the second quarter when Kirilenko spearheaded the game's key run. He had seven points, two steals and two blocks in the seven-minute stretch in which Utah scored 19 of the game's next 23 points.

"I like blocking shots, but the main goal is to win the game. That's more important for us," Kirilenko said. "Right now, I feel great with this team."

"We did very well in the second quarter," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "When we moved well and handled the ball well, we got decent shots."

Utah's Raja Bell added 17 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, when the Nuggets climbed within 10 points.

"If we can continue to capitalize on our style of play and get up there in the 100s, that's cool, but if we're in the 80s and our opponent is in the 70s, that's just as good," Bell said.

Gordan Giricek had 14 points and Jarron Collins and Mehmet Okur added 12 apiece for the Jazz, who are off to a 4-0 start for the first time since the 2000-01 season.

Okur, who has been hampered by an eye injury, had his best performance in a Jazz uniform, pulled down a team-high nine rebounds in 20 minutes.

Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with 17 points and eight rebounds. Denver was hammered 106-82 by Utah on Saturday.

"We came out and used the blueprint we used in that first game," said Bell. "We just executed, played hard and tried to help each other when they were trying to isolate us."

Anthony, who was plagued by early foul trouble, shot just 5-of-14 and had six turnovers.

"It's hard to get in the game mentally when you pick up three quick fouls and can't play much in the first half," Anthony said. "(Utah's run) happened kind of in the blink of an eye. I was on the bench, I don't even know how they got such a big lead. I tried to pick it up in the second half, but by that time it was a little too late."

Down 80-61 at the end of the third, Denver scored 10 of the first 12 points of the fourth, but Bell answered with a huge 3-pointer to push the lead to 14. When the Nuggets cut the deficit to 86-76, Bell hit another jumper and added a 3-pointer one minute later to give the Jazz a comfortable 93-78 lead.