SAN ANTONIO — There was a point in Sunday’s game between the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs when the two teams looked to be separated-at-birth twin teams based on the scores and their shooting percentages.
And, no, this isn’t a reference to tipoff when it was 0-0 and nobody had missed or made any shots.
Midway through the second quarter, the Spurs and Jazz were tied at 38. Remarkably, they were even shooting an identical 54.8 percent on 17-of-31 shooting.
That’s when the teams’ differences were made quite evident and quite quickly.
The Spurs used a 7-0 spurt to gain some separation before halftime and then put on an even more dazzling shooting display the rest of the way in a 122-104 blowout victory over the Jazz.
San Antonio’s offensive outburst spoiled a career-high scoring night for Derrick Favors, who poured in 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Unfortunately for the Jazz, it wasn’t nearly enough on this night.
“Our guys competed,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They’re just better at what they do at this stage. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit.”
Credit the Spurs for shooting a season-high 62.8 percent from the field and for hitting 10-of-16 3-point shots.
Credit the Spurs for a well-balanced offensive output, which included 21 points from Manu Ginobili, a combined 22-of-32 shooting from the Big Three, seven double-figure scorers and 31 assists in a superb ball movement exhibition.
Credit the NBA-leading Spurs for winning their 50th game this season, their 10th straight in March and their fourth in a row over Utah.
“Every time we play the Spurs, it’s the same thing. They’re a team that never stops moving. They play as a team. They play together. They hit shots,” Favors said. “They’ve got a lot of great players on their team that made big plays. It’s amazing to watch them. It’s something that we can learn from.”
For much of the 33 minutes he played, Favors showed that he’s been picking up some versatility to his offensive game. He hit 12-of-19 shots and showed no fear going against 6-11 Tim Duncan.
While scorching the nets, Favors easily surpassed his previous career high of 23, which he reached for a second time in Milwaukee a year ago.
“It’s just things I’ve been working on this summer: face-up jumpers, turnaround jumpers, hook shots, isolation moves on the mid-post area,” Favors said. “It’s just different ways to get my shot off, and it’s nice to see it finally paying off.”
This is the second consecutive strong performance from Favors against the Spurs.
On Jan. 15, the 6-10 center totaled 19 points and 12 rebounds in a 109-105 defeat at AT&T Center.
“This was a great night for me,” Favors admitted in a tone that sounded more matter-of-factly than bragging. “My teammates did a good job of finding me in the post and in my spots, and I was hitting shots. Just one of those nights for me.”
Hayward, who, despite six turnovers, had a strong all-around night with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists, loved how Favors moved with confidence and purpose in the paint.
“He played extremely well tonight, especially in the post. … He showed us some of his moves,” Hayward said. “I think they kind of let him go one-on-one on us and he capitalized on a lot of those occasions, even against one of the best defenders down there on the block of all-time probably (in Duncan).”
The Jazz continued with the starting lineup they used in Friday’s 96-87 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, with all the usual guys except for Enes Kanter filling in for Marvin Williams.
Corbin opted to start the 6-11 Kanter to counter the Spurs’ 6-11 frontcourt of Duncan and Tiago Splitter.
Kanter had a rough first half with three fouls, one rebound and zero points but ended up scoring eight and grabbing 11 rebounds. Williams finished with eight points and four boards off the bench.
“It’s something different. I was used to playing with Marv throughout the whole season,” Favors said. “The Spurs came out with a big lineup and Coach wanted to go with a big lineup and you just have to deal with it.”
Despite San Antonio’s hot shooting, which fell just short of Miami’s opponent-high 63.4 night in December, the Jazz were within five points late in the third quarter before things unraveled. In the final 4:34 of that period, Ginobili scored seven points as the close game turned into a 91-76 Spurs advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
“They know how to win basketball games,” Hayward said. “They get the job done.”
“Take nothing away from our guys,” Corbin said. “I thought we came out, we fought hard. This is a great ball club and they don’t miss a beat.”
They don’t miss a shot, or so it seemed Sunday.
After playing the league’s two hottest teams, the Jazz, officially eliminated from the playoffs at 22-45, travel to face a ticked-off Houston club that was smoking before losing its last three games.
"I’m probably going to have to play Dwight (Howard). I hope I feel fresh, man," Favors said. "It’s going to be a tough game. But it’s the NBA, so it’s stuff you just got to be used to and be ready to play."