Duncan leads Spurs past Jazz in Game OneMay 21, 2007 - 12:16 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- So much for the expected letdown by the San Antonio Spurs.
Tim Duncan had 27 points and 10 rebounds and Manu Ginobili added 23 as the Spurs eased past the Utah Jazz, 108-100, in Game One of the Western Conference finals.
Tony Parker contributed 21 points for San Antonio, which had just one day of rest coming off its emotional six-game victory over the second-seeded Phoenix Suns.
The Spurs opened a 19-point first-half lead and held off a belated comeback by the Jazz, who had been idle since closing out Golden State in five games on Tuesday.
"You can say it was jitters. You can say they had extra days off, maybe a little bit of rust," Duncan said. "But they played better in the second half and we didn't. We played good enough, though, by the way."
The emotional letdown appeared to be a reality when the Jazz bolted to a 7-0 lead, but from then on it was all Spurs.
San Antonio shot 66 percent (21-of-32) in charging to a 54-36 halftime lead. Duncan had 16 points and Ginobili 14 in the opening half.
"We were running all over the place, giving them layups," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "The layups killed us. That's what a great team does, they take advantage of mistakes, and they are as good as anybody you play against in that situation."
Deron Williams was magnificent for the Jazz, scoring 34 points and sparking a late rally as Utah finally got the deficit under double digits in the final four minutes.
Utah hit 10 straight baskets in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to 95-87 on Williams' dunk with 2:43 to play. Williams was unstoppable, scoring 11 points in less than four minutes and 18 overall in the quarter.
"I think the first game is when you are supposed to send a message," Williams said. "And I don't think we did that, especially in the first half. I think we battled back in the second half and it showed a lot about us."
Michael Finley hit four free throws for San Antonio as the Jazz were unable to get closer than eight points until the final four minutes.
"Well, we had a good first half offensively and defensively and luckily had enough of a lead to hang in there because they played better than we did in the second half," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Played better D, executed better. Deron Williams was fantastic and they made a great run. We were just able to hang on. So, we are happy we were able to do that."
Sparked by Ginobili and Duncan, the Spurs used an 11-2 run in the second quarter to take a 44-28 lead with 3:53 left in the half. They outscored the Jazz, 32-16, in the quarter.
"We are always going to try to control the tempo and try to get the ball inside to Timmy and try to get some points, easy baskets in the paint," Parker said.
Every time Utah made a run in the third quarter, San Antonio had an answer. Finley made a pair of 3-pointers and Parker had a steal and uncontested basket late to give the Spurs a 78-62 cushion headed into the final 12 minutes.
"We started off really well and then hit a major funk," Jazz guard Derek Fisher. "I don't think the time off affected our play tonight, the Spurs just beat us. We dug ourselves a really big hole tonight and you can't do that in the Western Conference finals on someone's home court and expect to fight back."
The main culprit for Utah was its dreadful shooting. The Jazz shot 5-of-21 for the first quarter and 12-of-41 (29 percent) in the first half.
Carlos Boozer finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds for Utah, which is facing San Antonio in the postseason for the first time since 1998 - the last time the Jazz reached the NBA Finals.
"I think Carlos missed a couple of opportunities that might have gotten him going but in the second half it changed," Popovich said. "They were the better team in the second half. Defensively, on the boards, execution on offense. We were too satisfied with the first half, I guess, but they outplayed us down the stretch."
SAN ANTONIO 108 FINAL
May 20 6:15 PM
SAN ANTONIO 78 END, 3RD QTR
May 20 5:29 PM
SAN ANTONIO 54 HALFTIME
May 20 4:39 PM
SAN ANTONIO 23 END, 1ST QTR
May 20 4:03 PM
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