SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker scored 18 points and the San Antonio Spurs handed Utah its second-worst playoff loss in franchise history, beating the Jazz 114-83 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.
NBA Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich practically put the Spurs on autopilot after a 20-0 run in the second quarter that stunned the Jazz, who had vowed to play better after the Spurs easily won Game 1. But this humiliating rout was even easier.
The Jazz never quite greeted Parker with the hard fouls the All-Star was supposed to have coming, and the Utah frontcourt of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap wasn’t any more imposing on offense. Jefferson scored 10 points, and Millsap had nine.
Game 3 is Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
The only bigger embarrassment for the Jazz in the playoffs was a 42-point loss to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1998 NBA Finals.
It’s the first time the Spurs have led a series 2-0 since opening the 2008 playoffs against Phoenix. San Antonio won that series in five, and unless the Jazz can shake this off, this one will be over just as quick.
If not sooner.
“We were aggressive and we wanted to make sure we matched their energy,” Parker said.
It was a total collapse by the Jazz in spite of flying back to Salt Lake City and regrouping with two days of practice after losing the opener Sunday. Back home, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin admitted feeling unusually nervous before that Game 1, but said before tipoff this time that those jitters were under control.
By the second quarter, Corbin appeared to be wrestling with disgust.
That’s when the Spurs held the Jazz scoreless for more than seven minutes while rookie Kawhi Leonard and unheralded swingman Danny Green outplayed the Jazz’s stars. Utah shot 5 of 28 in the second quarter and the Jazz filed off the court at halftime walking slow, heads down and quiet.
It had been only minutes earlier the Jazz were as close as 31-26. But the Spurs blew the game open so comfortably and quickly that Parker and Duncan never left the bench in the fourth quarter.
Jefferson and Howard, who also had 10 points, were Utah’s leading scorers.
It was the most lopsided postseason win for the Spurs since beating the Nuggets by 28 in 2005. San Antonio’s playoff record is a 40-point victory over Denver in 1983.
Duncan finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Leonard scored 17 points, and Green had 13.
At least the Jazz didn’t look the most embarrassed the entire night. Popovich again had to show off his coach of the year trophy before the game, this time for fans while standing between Duncan and Spurs great David Robinson. Popovich obliged for several seconds before scrambling to hand the trophy off to one of his assistants as fast as possible.
Printed on Thursday, May 3, 2012 as: San Antonio dismantles Utah, commands 2-0 series lead