SALT LAKE CITY — Usually Ricky Rubio’s phone is pretty quiet after games.
As his teammates receive text after text from friends and family about the game, he often has just a single one from back home in Spain — from his father.
“He’s the only one up overseas,” Rubio said. “Others text me when I’m in bed already so I can’t really reply to them.”
One of the reasons the Jazz and Spurs played so early on Saturday, (it was a rare 3 p.m. tip,) was to make it a little easier for the global audience to watch the game. And Rubio gave his friends and family back home in Spain plenty to cheer about.
In Utah's first game following the NBA trade deadline, Rubio had 16 points, six rebounds and six assists to help the Jazz to a 125-105 win over the Spurs Saturday at Vivint Arena. And the people back home were watching.
“It was full of messages,” Rubio said. “I’m happy that people watched, people enjoyed and watched us win.”
It was an odd start time. And frankly, it was an odd start. The Spurs came out in multiple defenses — including a zone coverage that the Jazz players hadn’t seen for some time.
“San Antonio played a triangle and two early and I think it had been a long time since any of us had played against a triangle and two,” Kyle Korver said. “It was a great game plan by them. It had us kind of caught off guard and it took us a while to figure it out.”
It got the Jazz (32-24) out of rhythm early in the first quarter and allowed the Spurs to jump out to a quick seven-point lead. But once the Jazz figured it out, it was all Utah on Saturday.
That was seen when Rubio started the second quarter with three straight possessions of getting into the paint. The first led to a reverse layup, the second ended in a Derrick Favors dunk, (plus a free throw,) and the third resulted in two more of Favors' free throws. And just like that, the Jazz were in control.
“He attacks, good things happen,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Whether that’s his pull up, or some of the lobs he’s throwing, and you get yourself into the game and you are more comfortable shooting the ball too. I told him to attack.”
Utah used a 22-8 run between the first and second quarters — including a 9-0 spurt — to take a lead it would never surrender.
Part of breaking the odd defensive formations was the shooting of Royce O’Neale. After the Jazz started off the game with open misses from Favors, Rubio and Jae Crowder, O’Neale was the one who started connecting from deep. And then he never stopped.
The second-year swingman nailed all four of his 3-point attempts and finished with 17 points in the game.
Mitchell led Utah with 23 points on 9-for-22 shooting while adding five assists and five rebounds. And Rudy Gobert finished with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting and 13 rebounds.
Gobert helped the Jazz outscore the Spurs by 12 points in the paint and out-rebound them 52-36.
“They jumped higher,” San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich said. “They were more physical.”
San Antonio All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge was held to 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting — most of the credit for that belonged to Gobert, who will not be joining Aldridge at the All-Star Game.
With the win, the Jazz won the season series over the Spurs and are now in sole possession of the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Those are just a couple things that Rubio could have talked with his friends back home about. Because he had some texts to respond to.
“I’m gonna answer all of them now,” Rubio said.