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Jazz score upset victory over red-hot Spurs behind play of George Hill

SAN ANTONIO — Before the game, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich talked about how fond he was of Jazz guard George Hill and how he used to say Hill was his favorite player during the three years Hill spent with the Spurs.

Popovich may have been happy for Hill Tuesday night, but not the way he treated his Spurs in leading the Jazz to a 106-91 upset victory at the AT&T Center.

Hill led the Jazz with 22 points, but it was his play over a two-minute span in the fourth quarter that made the difference in Utah’s improbable victory over a team that was off to a 4-0 start, outscoring opponents by 16 points a game.

The 30-year-old point guard, who was acquired from Indiana in June, scored nine straight Jazz points to extend a tenuous Jazz lead and keep the Spurs at bay.

“He was very good,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “You probably can’t value it enough having a guy when he has the ball, kind of calms everybody. He knows what to say and what to do.”

The Jazz were leading just 86-84 midway through the fourth quarter when Hill went to work. First he scored inside and followed it with a 3-pointer from out front. Then he was a 15-footer in the lane, followed by a drive up the left side that turned into a three-point play when he was fouled.

That made it 96-88 with 4:05 left and then Joe Johnson, Trey Lyles and Rodney Hood helped finish off the Spurs.

“I was just trying to make plays,” said the soft-spoken Hill in the locker room afterward. “Gordon Hayward was talking to me during a timeout in the fourth quarter saying, I’ve got to take over and be aggressive and that’s the only thing that was in my head. I was just trying to make plays and I think my teammates did a great job of knocking down shots late and taking care of the ball.”

While Hill was the hero down the stretch, it was a total team victory for the Jazz who played 10 players at least 10 minutes and got contributions from each as the Jazz bench outscored the Spurs bench 45-24.

Hood shook off a poor shooting night against the Clippers on Sunday to score 19 points, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range.

Lyles and Shelvin Mack scored 15 and 14 off the bench, respectively, and were aided by Joe Ingles who scored eight and Jeff Withey and Dante Exum four apiece.

“I thought more than anything tonight, our bench was really did a terrific job,” said Snyder. “We were able to keep those guys in for awhile. You can’t say enough about Joe Ingles, Dante, Shelvin played terrific and to do what Jeff Withey did, to come in after not playing for a number of games and to be ready, was really good. Trey Lyles gave us a huge lift in the second half.”

The Jazz, who came into the game 1-2, played one of their best quarters in years in racing out to a 38-28 lead. The Jazz were red-hot, sinking 13 of 18 field goals, including 7 of 8 from 3-point range.

Jazz are RIPPIN' it from downtown! 6/7 from the 3. @ShelvinMack with your second #MACU3 #UTAatSAS

— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 2, 2016

The lead got as high as 16 in the second quarter, before the Spurs fought back and closed the gap to four at halftime, 54-50. The Spurs took the lead in the third quarter and appeared to be on their way to their fifth straight victory, but the Jazz didn’t give in.

Ingles and Johnson each hit big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter before Hill took over, as the Jazz ended up making 15 of their 31 3-pointers on the night compared to San Antonio’s 6 of 20.

Kawhi Leonard, who is off to a terrific start this year, had a another outstanding game, leading the Spurs with 30 points, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range. But he missed his last two shots and then turned the ball over with 1:15 left and the Jazz up by 10. LaMarcus Aldridge was the only other Spur in double figures with 21 points.

“Overall they outplayed us,” said Popovich. “I thought Quin’s guys executed fantastically. They were aggressive the entire 48 minutes. We were in and out in that regard, and it cost us."

Derrick Favors started for the first time this season after missing most of the preseason with left knee soreness. He played 15 minutes in the first half and had six points and three rebounds. He didn’t play in the second half, but Snyder said it was purely because of minutes restriction.

“We’re being smart with (Favors) and making sure we bring him back the right way,” Snyder said.

The Jazz will play Dallas at home Wednesday night and then face the Spurs again on Friday night at Vivint Arena.