Down 0-2, Jazz head home to face Spurs

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SALT LAKE CITY — Even John Stockton and Karl Malone had rough days.

Utah’s dynamic duo of yesteryear spent a lot of time in the playoffs — some of it winning and some of it losing. Their worst playoff loss was a 96-54 drubbing at the hands of the Bulls in Game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals.

Utah went on to lose in six games that year, but the nightmarish Game 3 didn’t mark the end of the road for the Jazz. They bounced back, battling the Bulls in closely contested games for the duration of the series with no margin of victory for either team exceeding four points. Utah even picked up a victory in Game 5 before falling to the Bulls in Game 6.

The lesson? As bad as Wednesday’s 114-83 loss in San Antonio was for the franchise, it’s been worse. It wasn’t historically bad, and just like in ’98, there is hope after a bad outing.

"It's a tough, tough loss for us," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said to the Deseret News. "But, you know what, these guys (the Spurs) did what they were supposed to do on their home court and win these two ballgames. We got to make sure to get our mindset to go home and win some games."


Jazz forward Paul Millsap said after the game that what happens in Texas needs to stay in Texas.

"We're going to leave this one down here in San Antonio," Millsap said to the Deseret News after the game, "and move on to the next one."

Utah (0-2) gets its chance to move on to “the next one,” as it faces the Spurs (2-0) tonight at EnergySolutions Arena where the Jazz boasted a 25-8 regular-season record, the sixth best mark in the NBA.

The Jazz are looking for better effort on both ends of the floor after getting blown out in the first two games.

"It's all the way around. Interior guys, we've got to play better. Perimeter guys, we've got to play better. Defensively, we've got to play better," Jazz point guard Devin Harris said to the Deseret News. "It's our chance to impose our will on them. We've played better at home. We've done it all season long, and now we've got to show it."

Utah Jazz's Derrick Favors (15). (AP Photo/Eric 
Utah Jazz's Derrick Favors (15). (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

For the Jazz to get a win, they’ll need more production from their talented group of bigs. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap have struggled, while Derrick Favors has seen decreased minutes. Millsap’s and Jefferson’s scoring averages are down from the regular season.

Increased production could come in the form of using the three on the court at the same time, a move that Corbin and the Jazz had success with at the end of the season while trying to secure a playoff spot.

"I think the big lineup could hurt them if we get into it earlier in the game instead of doing it when we're already down," Jefferson said to the Associated Press on Friday.

Derrick Favors, who would be the biggest beneficiary of the Jazz going to the big lineup, is all about it.

"I'm ready for anything," Favors said to the Associated Press. "If (coach) gives me minutes, I'm ready for it."

The Spurs are expecting Game 3 to be different from the first two, and are aware that the Jazz will be motivated and ready to play.

“They’re going to play even harder, with a great atmosphere,” said Manu Ginobili to the San Antonio Express-News. “They’re going to be fired up. Hopefully, we don’t relax and keep fighting.”

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, 
right, talks to Tim Duncan. (AP Photo/Darren 
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, right, talks to Tim Duncan. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Future Hall of Fame Center Tim Duncan said his coach, Gregg Popovich, is concerned the team may fall behind early.

“I know Pop’s really antsy about us coming out and getting jumped on,” Duncan said to the Express- News. “From game to game, there’s always a danger of letdowns. We’re going to fight against that, but there’s no promises in any way.”

Jefferson said everybody has to step up for the Jazz to pull out a win.

"This is a challenge for everybody. Everybody know they got to step up and try to stay alive," Jefferson said. "Game 3 is a very important game. Getting down 3-0 is going to be really difficult, so this is a very important game."

The game takes place at 8 p.m. at EnergySolutions Arena and will be televised on TNT.

Jarrod is a freelance writer who writes Jazz previews for can follow Jarrod Hiatt on Twitter at @jarrodhiatt.

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