Utah owned the first seven points scored in Sunday's Game One loss to the San Antonio Spurs to kick off the NBA's Western Conference Finals. They also fought back from 18 down in the fourth quarter to give some level of suspense to the game as it wound down. But everything in between was all San Antonio. Utah has undoubtedly figured out after this game that the Spurs are not the underachieving Rockets or the streaky Warriors. Their response in Game Two will be very telling as concerns this young, upcoming team.
Utah does have a few positive things to reflect on before these two squads tip off again Tuesday night back at the AT&T Center. Many of those same things are elements of basketball that Gregg Popovich will probably reinforce with his own players before that tip. The most evident of these is rebounding. Utah out-rebounded San Antonio 48-33 and 21-8 on the offensive glass. Giving Utah that many second chance opportunities in Game Two and beyond will severely undermine the defensive intensity that is San Antonio's bread and butter.
Deron Williams can also be happy with his play this afternoon. He would be ecstatic were it not for the fact that it was, ultimately, all for naught. Still, he poured in 34 points and handed out 9 assists and generally outplayed Tony Parker. Williams got almost no help though. Carlos Boozer's 20 points and 12 rebounds look a lot better than they were. he was completely taken out of the game until the Jazz's furious comeback attempt down the stretch. Andrei Kirilenko, so impressive against Golden State, played a sloppy game that looked much more like the regular season rendition of AK47. Meanwhile, Manu Ginobili was making up for Parker's mediocre showing with his own double-double (23 points, 10 assists) and Tim Duncan played up to his usual standards, scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 boards while throwing out a handful of assists and making sure to get in a couple rejections for good measure.