David Robinson recovered from his two-game slump and had 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Spurs past the Utah Jazz 98-87 Tuesday night as San Antonio avoided playoff elimination.
The Spurs closed Utah's lead to 3-2 in the best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal series. Game 6 is Thursday night at Salt Lake City.Trailing 45-35 at halftime, Utah opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run sparked by John Stockton and Karl Malone and cut its deficit to 47-45.
But San Antonio responded with 14 unanswered points and Utah couldn't recover. The Jazz went 5:44 without scoring and the Spurs pushed their lead to 61-45 with 3:32 left in the quarter.
The Spurs grabbed a 20-point advantage, 68-48, their biggest of the game, with one minute left in the third period on a 3-pointer by Chuck Person. San Antonio led 68-53 entering the final period.
The Jazz threatened midway through the fourth, pulling to 81-70 with 5:30 remaining on two free throws by Malone. Avery Johnson answered with a basket, and Malone came back with another to keep Utah within 83-72 with just under four minutes to play, but the Jazz could get no closer.
Malone led Utah with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Jeff Hornacek scored 16 points and Stockton had 14 points and eight assists.
San Antonio is seeking to become only the sixth team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit.
"We've still got two games to go, so everything's still up in the air right now," Robinson said. "We believe we can do it. The last two games were not indicitave at all of the team that we have.
"It's only one win, but it's a big one and we got it," Robinson said.
Robinson had only 11 points in both Game 3 and Game 4 last weekend as the Spurs lost by 30 and 15 points.
"We just haven't been playing good Spurs basketball all through the series. We've been stinking up the gym in this series," Avery Johnson said.
Johnson and Vinny Del Negro each added 21 points, though Johnson had only one assist. Person scored 12 points for the Spurs - all on 3-pointers.
Will Perdue had a career playoff-high in rebounds with 12.
Stockton left the game with 1:10 left in the fourth and headed to the lockerroom with a trainer behind him. He apparently strained his left hamstring.
San Antonio started Perdue instead of Charles Smith, and Perdue had a rebound and a slam dunk in the first five minutes. San Antonio outscored Utah 26-16 in the first quarter, and 15 of the Spurs' first 18 points were scored by guards Del Negro and Johnson.
San Antonio shot 46 percent, compared with 44 percent for Utah. The Spurs outrebounded the Jazz 42-37.
Notes: Hill tried to grab his players' attention earlier Tuesday by inserting into game film some scenes from the movie "Hoosiers" and footage from assistant coach Dave Cowens' basketball career. ... To fill the Alamodome and boost the noise factor, Spurs executives opened the dome's upper-deck and sold tickets for $5 each. Attendance, which had hovered around 16,000 at previous playoffs games, was 34,215 Tuesday. ... Doc Rivers of the Spurs again didn't play because of lower back spasms.