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Duncan, Spurs use stellar defense to top Jazz

Dec 29, 2006 - 5:45 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- After one of their worst defensive performances of the season, Tim Duncan and San Antonio Spurs made a statement against a tough opponent.

In a matchup of two of the NBA's top teams, Duncan had 20 points and nine rebounds and shut down Carlos Boozer as the Spurs used stellar defense to spark their transition game in a 106-83 win over the Utah Jazz.

Tony Parker added 22 points for San Antonio, which shot 50 percent (40-of-80) from the field in picking up its 15th straight home win over Utah. The Jazz have not won at the AT&T Center since May 2, 1999.

Coming off a poor performance, the Spurs were ready to compete from the opening tip.

"I think the energy level was up," San Antonio guard Bruce Bowen said. "Guys understand that we have given a really poor effort in the previous games here at home, and that's not acceptable if we are going to obtain the goals we have for the end of the season."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich laced into his team after a lackluster 114-107 loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday. San Antonio allowed its most points of the season to anger Popovich, whose defensive mindset has led to three championships since 1999.

"It was a very good win against a very good team," Popovich said. "It was nice to see them compete for all four quarters. I recognized the team that was out there."

On Thursday, however, the Spurs tightened up against the Jazz, who shot just 42 percent (30-of-71). One of the top defenders in the league, Duncan held Boozer to nine points on 2-of-10 shooting. Utah's 6-9 forward entered the contest averaging 22.0 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

"(The Spurs' defense on Thursday) is a starting point," Duncan said. "We realized our mistakes last game and we understand that defensively we are a much better ballclub, and I thought we gave that effort. That effort and that focus is what we are going to need."

"(San Antonio) played a (heck) of a game, give them credit," Boozer said. "They took it to us and they were the aggressor. They just played a (heck) of a game."

Duncan was 8-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-7 from the line, while Parker shot 9-of-15 and 4-of-7.

"Tim was focused for 48 minutes both on the court and the bench," Popovich said. "He just played. He didn't talk to anyone but teammates. When Tim plays the way he did, not just his game but his focus, everyone follows suit."

Deron Williams and Gordan Giricek scored 11 points apiece for the Jazz, who had won their previous two games.

"Those guys gave us a lesson about how to play basketball," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "They took us straight out of what we wanted to do."

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