NBA: Coaching history is made as the Spurs tune out the Jazz at home
San Antonio, Texas - The San Antonio Spurs got back into the win column with a historic victory on Friday night as they slipped by one of the west’s better teams in the Utah Jazz.
The Spurs beat the Jazz 104-102 for only their second win in the last seven games, but the more important part about Friday night’s victory was witnessing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (73) become the NBA’s all-time regular-season wins leader.
Popovich was never the kind of head coach who was ever big on the numbers, even though he’s won five NBA titles and 13 division titles to go along with his now 1,336th regular-season win.
Instead, he remained focused on the task at hand: winning the game.
San Antonio answered the call, though it would take them most of the game to finally get into a real position to win.
The better team was in control as the Jazz grabbed the lead early in the first quarter and held an advantage for the better part of the first three quarters.
Even during a rather "gun-shy" third quarter that had the Jazz just barely outscoring the Spurs 15-14, the game was still in Utah’s hands.
Then came a 40-point fourth-quarter explosion by San Antonio that gave the Spurs a slight lead with just over a minute to go.
The Jazz couldn’t connect on crucial shots in the game’s final seconds as the Spurs held on for the historic win.
The player spotlight
While the head coach of the Spurs rightly deserved much of Friday night’s post-game fanfare, one of his best players, point guard Dejounte Murray, was the high man for San Antonio.
Murray hasn’t played in every game this season, but he has been his team’s leading scorer all year with 20.7 points per game.
And he’s also really good at sharing the wealth, as it is, leading his team with 9.3 assists per game.
Murray ended his night shooting 9-for-23 from the field for 27 points, nine rebounds, five steals, and four assists.
The big picture
This season might not be totally lost for the Spurs. Believe it or not, they might actually sneak into the Western Conference’s play-in round once it's time for the playoffs.
Sure, they haven’t been playing successful basketball consistently, but they did just win a tough game against one of the league’s top teams on Friday night.
It also wouldn't hurt for a few teams above them, meaning the Lakers, Pelicans, and Blazers, to falter through the end of the season.
If the Spurs take everything they can from their big win over the Jazz and build on it, look for them to at least make a significant push for one of the west’s last playoff seeds over the next weeks.
On Saturday, the Spurs will host the Pacers while the Jazz will back in Utah to host the Kings.
Cover photo: imago/Icon SMI