SALT LAKE CITY — San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich isn't necessarily a fan of the way things have changed in the NBA. The legendary head coach even went as far as calling the trend of shooting a high number of 3-pointers "boring" before his team tipped off against Utah on Tuesday.
Well, Pop, Jazz fans would have to disagree. At least they did on Tuesday.
On the night fans welcomed back Kyle Korver to Salt Lake City, the Jazz appropriately enough set a franchise record with 20 3-pointers. That was more than enough scoring as Utah blew out the Spurs 139-105 at Vivint Arena.
Utah improved to 12-13 with the win. It was Utah’s first win at home since Nov. 9.
Donovan Mitchell started the triples off and Georges Niang finished them. When Niang came around a screen and drilled a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter, it set a new Jazz record. And between the two, there were plenty of players getting in on the fun.
Mitchell hit four 3-pointers, Joe Ingles and Korver hit three apiece, Ricky Rubio and Jae Crowder each splashed in two. In all, the Jazz shot 20-for-33 from behind the arc — and each one came with thunderous applause.
“(Utah) had a tough time finding that 3-point hole during the year and it caught up tonight,” Popovich said. “They did a great job. They knocked don a lot of shots, but they did it the right way. They had great penetration, they are very unselfish and guys knocked down shots. That makes a big difference when those things go in.”
With the hot shooting, the Jazz controlled the game throughout the night. Utah was up by 14 at the end of the first quarter and that lead was never threatened. The Spurs cut the deficit to 67-53 early in the third quarter, but less than three minutes later, Mitchell and Ingles hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the Jazz moved out to an 84-59 advantage.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the only mystery remaining was if the Jazz were going to break their 3-point record.
Niang made sure they did just that.
So what was different on this night? Jazz head coach Quin Snyder admitted that not all of the makes were the best shots, but a number of them were. Players ran to corners for open looks and the Jazz’s spacing was better overall. There weren’t a lot of times players got caught standing next to each other.
“We haven’t been as focused on our spacing as we need to be all the time,” Snyder said. “That’s what ultimately generates good shots. You have to be unselfish, but guys have to space.”
The Jazz were mightily unselfish, too. Utah had 38 assists on 51 made field goals on Tuesday.
It was one of the Jazz's most complete performances of the season. Utah shot 60.7 percent from the field and 60.6 from deep. The Jazz had seven players reach double figures led by Mitchell's 20.
But the Jazz know that they won’t be in for historic shooting games each night. That’s why everyone from Snyder to Mitchell to Ingles said that the defensive end was more important to the Jazz’s success than simply draining 3-pointer after 3-pointer (though, as Mitchell said, “when you make a lot of threes that definitely helps").
And the Jazz defense was good enough on Tuesday. After giving up big runs in the last two games, Utah’s defense never let San Antonio back into the contest.
To Ingles, it felt like the old times of last season.
“I think kind of getting back to who we think we should be, we haven't really been this year,” he said. “We have watched a lot of film, we’ve talked about it but we haven’t put it out on the court. … To put it all together tonight, that was nice.”