Hood, Jazz rise up against Spurs
SALT LAKE CITY — Creating a spark on offense fell on Rodney Hood’s shoulders late in the game Thursday. The Utah Jazz guard exceeded expectations and channeled his aggressive side at the right time.
Hood made several critical late baskets to help the Jazz secure a 100-89 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
He finished with 29 points on 12-of-24 shooting. His most brilliant stretch came at a point when the Spurs threatened to overtake the Jazz midway through the fourth quarter.
Tony Parker drove for back-to-back layups and then drilled a jumper to cut Utah’s lead to 82-81. Hood snuffed out the comeback when he answered with baskets on three consecutive possessions, fueling a decisive 13-2 run that put Utah up 95-83 with 3:53 left.
“We knew they were going to go on a run, and Tony Parker got real aggressive,” Hood said. “We had to go on a run. I saw daylight and I just had to rise up and shoot the ball and make the right play when they started trapping me and blitzing me.”
Hood is averaging 17.2 points over his past six games since returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for seven games. His willingness to do whatever he can to buoy up the Jazz offense made a difference in the absence of starters Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
“It felt like he was making those timely shots every time for them,” Parker said. “He played well.”
Derrick Favors added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Ricky Rubio chipped in 11 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Jazz. Utah (15-18) snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the second time in nine games.
Bryn Forbes led the Spurs with 12 points. Four other San Antonio players each scored 11 points.
San Antonio (22-11) had a three-game winning streak end after struggling on offense throughout the first half.
Utah took advantage of a prolonged shooting drought from San Antonio and seized control late in the first quarter. The Spurs missed nine consecutive shots spanning a 5:15 stretch from late in the first quarter to early in the second quarter.
The Jazz surged ahead 20-14 on a tip-in basket from Favors and back-to-back baskets from Alec Burks and Hood. They eventually boosted the lead to 30-17 early in the second quarter on back-to-back 3-pointers from Joe Johnson and Rubio.
“We came out and played with a lot of energy on the defensive end and made them take a lot of tough shots and a lot of contested shots,” Favors said. “Just tried to make it hard for them, make it tough for them.”
San Antonio briefly rallied after Forbes ended its drought with a 3-pointer. The Spurs pulled within 35-29 on back-to-back baskets from Davis Bertans and Joffrey Lauvergne.
Utah quickly pushed the margin back to double digits. The Jazz went up 42-29 when Hood converted a four-point play to cap a 7-0 spurt.
San Antonio came alive in the third quarter. The Spurs went 12 of 18 from the floor in the quarter and were 3 of 3 from 3-point range. They opened the quarter with an 11-1 run and cut their deficit to 51-49 on a turnaround jumper from LaMarcus Aldridge.
“We went down 12 or 13 a couple of times and came back within one or two,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Just too many mental errors to sustain it, but (we) gave a pretty good effort.”
The Jazz ended the initial run with a three-point play from Favors. They boosted the lead back to 59-51 on a 3-pointer from Jonas Jerebko.
San Antonio cut the deficit to a single basket again, making it 72-70 when Kyle Anderson beat the third-quarter buzzer with a reverse layup.
The Spurs could not close the remaining gap in the fourth quarter, thanks to Hood’s efforts.
“I thought at the beginning of the third quarter we kept our poise,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “They hit some shots and we turned it over a little bit. I thought we responded and then we responded again in the fourth. The last eight minutes of the game we played well.”
NOTES: Jazz G Donovan Mitchell (toe contusion) missed his second straight game and G Raul Neto (concussion) missed his sixth straight game. G Nate Wolters (back) was also a late scratch for Utah. ... Spurs G Manu Ginobili (rest), G/F Danny Green (left groin tightness) and F Pau Gasol (groin) did not play after seeing action against Portland on Wednesday. ... Utah G Rodney Hood averaged 13.0 points per game against the Spurs last season. ... Spurs F LaMarcus Aldridge managed just three first-half points on 1-of-6 shooting and finished with 11 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.