AT&T CENTER – With 4:40 left in the fourth quarter Tuesday, the Utah Jazz were holding a slim 91-88 lead over the San Antonio Spurs. With the Jazz missing two core players in Gordon Hayward and Boris Diaw, it was up to George Hill and the rest of the Jazz to try to do something that was difficult for most opponents in the AT&T Center – execute and close out the Spurs at home.
But, the Jazz were able to do just that, as they ran a calm game-plan down the stretch in those final four minutes and ended the game on a 15-3 run, where Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich eventually had to empty the Spurs’ bench, as the Jazz won 106-91.
In this ‘Executing Late’ segment, we’ll analyze three possessions the Jazz ran on offense down the stretch to build their late lead against San Antonio.
Hill gets matchup vs. Gasol
With the Jazz leading by three (91-88), Utah used a HORNS set with a 1/3, then 1/5 pick-and-roll, which allowed the Jazz to run two screen actions that eventually made the Spurs switch defensively to a matchup the Jazz preferred – Hill vs. Pau Gasol. Usually, as the action shows below, Hill is supposed to go around Gobert’s screen (5), but instead, he avoids it to go right at Gasol to try to get the matchup with him.
This wasn’t the first time during the game Hill scored when he had Gasol on him, as he had also scored on several possessions in the previous quarters when Gasol had to defend him.
Johnson ISO vs. Parker
With a 96-91 lead, when the Jazz brought the ball down the floor, Hill quickly recognized that Joe Johnson (6’7”) had Tony Parker (6’2”) guarding him, so he threw the ball to Johnson to isolate vs. Parker, and the other members of the Jazz did a good job spacing out so the Spurs couldn’t help Parker.
Lyles Corner 3-pointer in Transition
The final dagger that eventually sealed the win for the Jazz was when the Jazz grabbed a defensive rebound and pushed the ball up the floor. Gobert had already headed toward the paint as the trailer, and his defender (Gasol), was behind on the play. Hill pushed the ball up, and with Gobert entering the paint, LaMarcus Aldridge had to guard him. Hill passed the ball to Johnson on the right wing arc, and Manu Ginobili, who was guarding Trey Lyles in the corner, was forced to jump out at Johnson since Gasol was off his assignment and late. Once Ginobili ran at Johnson, Johnson passed to a wide open Lyles in the corner for the made 3-pointer.
At this point, Utah’s lead blew up to 10 points and after a Gobert free throw, Popovich subbed out his starters for the final 44 seconds of the game, which had already been decided.
So, despite this season being young thus far and Utah missing some key core players, Tuesday showed that with Hill at the helm of the point guard role, he has the composure to read and run the offense late for Utah when an opposing team is trying to make a comeback.