SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The San Antonio Spurs pin their fortunes on
their defense, but they showed Saturday night that their offense
can get the job done in a hurry when needed.
Tim Duncan scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Antonio
Daniels added 18 points as the Spurs defeated the Jazz 100-80 for
their seventh straight victory.
San Antonio squandered nearly all of a 28-point lead amassed in
the first half as Karl Malone led a charge that pulled the Jazz
within five points, 60-55, late in the third.
San Antonio responded with an 18-5 run, paced by Daniels, who
knocked down three jumpers and a pair of free throws in the final
2:35 of the quarter.
"They got back in, but we came back," Duncan said. "We had
eight or 10 guys play well. That excites me."
"I had some shots available and I opened it up," Daniels said.
The Spurs tied the Lakers and Sacramento Kings for the league
lead in victories with 17. They have won by double-digit margins
six times during their winning streak.
Utah was held to only 37 percent shooting in the game, and
didn't hit a single 3-pointer in eight attempts.
"The defense is how we win," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
"Our team defense is improving as we move along, and that's great
Duncan did his damage in only 29 minutes of playing time on
9-for-10 shooting from the floor. Tony Parker added 12 points and
Charles Smith 11.
Malone led all scorers with 31, including 20 in the first half.
Andrei Kirilenko came off the bench for 15 points and 10 rebounds,
and DeShawn Stevenson had 14 points for the Jazz.
The Spurs rebuilt their lead to 29 points late in the fourth
before the Jazz finished on a 14-5 run.
Utah got little from one of its key players. Donyell Marshall,
who is averaging 19 points and a team-leading 8.3 rebounds. He
managed only four points and two boards in limited playing time due
to early foul trouble.
"It appeared that (the Jazz players) were thinking about their
day off tomorrow instead of concentrating on the game," Utah coach
Jerry Sloan said.
Sloan went on to vent some frustration about the team that has
slipped from division contender to sub-.500 at 11-13.
"We've got a mixture of young and old guys. We've got a couple
of guys on this team that are 38 and 40 years old that are in
better shape than some guys that are 22 and 23. That's what I have
a problem with."
The game's streaky nature was established in the first half.
After Malone sank a 20-footer to tie the score at 6, the Spurs
went on an 18-6 run led by Duncan, who finished the period with 18.
San Antonio missed only four of its 17 shots for the quarter while
taking a 33-20 lead.
The Spurs continued to make the game look like a rout in the
second, not allowing a basket until Kirilenko's tip-in with 6:25
San Antonio's advantage grew to 58-30, but Utah scored the final
15 points of the half, 11 by Malone.
After his fast start, Duncan sat out most of the second quarter
and didn't score. He didn't make another basket until late in the
Game notes Smith has scored in double figures in his last five games.
In those games, he has outpointed starting guard Steve Smith.
...Prior to the game, Spurs reserve forward Danny Ferry was placed
on the injured list with lower back spasms. ... With a
second-quarter free throw, Spurs center David Robinson passed
Walter Davis to take 28th place on the NBA's career scoring list
with 19,524 points. ... Utah's loss was its fifth straight to San
Antonio, but the Jazz still hold a 62-61 all-time edge. The teams
meet three more times this season.