at San Antonio 114, Utah 83 (San Antonio leads 2-0)
Offensive Ratings: San Antonio 127.1, Utah 89.0
There was a brief moment, early in the second quarter, when it looked like the Utah Jazz might give the San Antonio Spurs a scare during Wednesday's Game 2 at the AT&T Center. A 9-0 run by Utah's reserves, with assistance from Paul Millsap, brought the Jazz within five. Then Gregg Popovich brought back his starters, San Antonio cored the next 20 points, and the only remaining question was how badly the Spurs would throttle Utah.
Amazingly, the Jazz had an edge in two of the Four Factors and was pretty much even in turnover rate. The problem is the most important single factor to winning and losing a game is shooting, and there Utah was thoroughly trounced. San Antonio shot far better on threes (45.5 percent) than the Jazz did on twos (35.4 percent) and was equally efficiently inside the line, making 61.7 percent of its two-point tries.
Between now and Game 3, Utah must figure out some answer for Tony Parker, who is setting up shop in the paint. During Game 2, that was more about setting up teammates with his nine assists than his own scoring (18 points on 6-of-10 from the field). Parker is forcing some difficult choices. To have any chance of scoring enough points to win, the Jazz needs to attack the offensive glass, but that leaves the team vulnerable to Parker's one-man fast breaks against a slower defense.
Because of the good shots they generated, Parker and Duncan were the least efficient members of the Spurs' starting five. Boris Diaw, Daniel Green and Kawhi Leonard combined to score 41 points on 22 shooting possessions, making seven of their 11 three-point tries and missing just once inside the arc between them.
At this point, Tyrone Corbin might as well just start the vaunted big lineup that was so successful for Utah during the regular season. After promising to use it earlier in Game 2, he didn't break it out until late in the third quarter, by which point the Jazz was hopelessly behind. It was outscored by just two points in 5:34, but the garbage nature of the game makes it a little difficult to compare its effectiveness to Utah's standard units. What's obvious is that the Jazz's starting five is overmatched. Last night, it was outscored by San Antonio's starters by 30 points when all were on the floor. The Spurs are unlikely to sustain that level of effectiveness over 96 minutes in Salt Lake City, but Utah will have to play much better to take a game at home.
Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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