Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
By DOUG ALDEN AP Sports Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- So much for a San Antonio sweep. The Spurs' march toward the NBA finals hit its first snag in nearly two weeks when the Utah Jazz won Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, 109-83 on Saturday night.
Utah pulled to 2-1 in the series and remained unbeaten at home in the playoffs with a performance that was opposite of Games 1 and 2 in San Antonio. The Spurs were dominated Saturday as much as they had done the dominating back in Texas.
Utah outscored San Antonio 66-36 in the second half and forced 11 turnovers by the Spurs in the final two periods.
"They probably wanted the game even more than us. They played tougher in that second half. They were everywhere," said Manu Ginobili, who was one of just three Spurs to score in double figures. "It looked like every single board, loose ball or everything meant their lives and they went for it."
The Spurs hadn't trailed the Jazz since the first quarter of Game 1. San Antonio actually fell behind in the second half for the first time in the Western Conference finals and its playoff savvy wasn't enough to overcome a Jazz team feeding off the home energy.
The arena was packed with fans wearing powder blue Jazz T-shirts that were issued at the door and it was a tough crowd. Even actress Eva Longoria, the fiance of Spurs' guard Tony Parker, was booed when she was shown on the big-screen monitor during a timeout.
The Jazz fans weren't going to go quietly.
"I think there is a difference of energy the entire game. They won that battle," said Tim Duncan, who was in foul trouble for much of the second half and finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. "They used their crowd. They used the energy in this building."
Utah outscored San Antonio 32-20 in the third and forced Duncan to the bench with foul trouble. The Spurs' "Big 3" was down to two and Parker and Manu Ginobili couldn't hold off the Jazz by themselves.
"We was up after the first quarter. We was up after the first half and we just had a terrible second half," Parker said. "We can't have those letdowns. We can't think that it is going to be easy, especially here in Utah."
Duncan's string of 11 straight games with 20 points and 10 boards ended. He also had eight turnovers.
Parker had 25 points and seven assists, and Ginobili scored 14 points. Duncan had 16 points and no other Spur scored more than five.
San Antonio hasn't swept a series since the opening round of the 2004 playoffs. The Spurs still lead the Jazz by a game and if they win Monday night in Utah will be just one victory away from advancing to the finals.
But if the Jazz win Monday, the series will head back to San Antonio tied with three games left.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was terse in his postgame comments, giving several one-word responses.
"The score of the game is not really all that important. How well we play is what matters, and we didn't play very well," Popovich said. "They played better than we did in a lot of areas."
Popovich said before the game that despite San Antonio's well-documented composure while opening the playoffs 10-3, the Spurs were human and could actually unravel like any other team. His pregame comments were right on target a couple hours later.
The Jazz improved to 7-0 at home in the playoffs.
"They just played a better game than us for a longer time," Duncan said.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-05-26-07 2253MDT