Utah point guard George Hill used the lessons he learned in three seasons with San Antonio to hand his former team a rare home loss.
Hill had 22 points and the Jazz made a season-high 15 3-pointers, handing the Spurs their first loss of the season, 106-91 on Tuesday night.
“He had a great game,” San Antonio veteran Manu Ginobili said. “For three quarters they played good solid basketball and in the fourth he just took over. Made some big shots, good plays off the pick-and-roll. He’s a great player, we know he can do it.”
Utah handed San Antonio only its second home loss since March 2015. The Spurs didn’t lose their first home game last season until April 10 and finished 40-1 at the AT&T Center.
“Every loss is disappointing to me,” said Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who had a game-high 30 points. “Just disappointed in our defensive effort. Our energy wasn’t there in the first quarter. They were knocking down shots in the fourth quarter. They scored 33 in the fourth and that’s not good either.”
Hill made four straight baskets starting with about 6 minutes left in the fourth, scoring 10 points to give the Jazz a 96-88 lead with 4 minutes remaining.
The Spurs rallied from an anemic first quarter to take a second-half lead, but Hill helped steady the young Jazz with a court presence he learned under San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.
“Play like you’ve been there before,” Hill said. “Coach Pop always instilled that into me my first three years here. Don’t show really that much emotion, unless it’s part of the game, but act like you’ve been there before. That’s what I try to instill in the guys, move onto the next play every time.”
Utah needed that serenity after nearly blowing a dominant first quarter.
“We definitely allowed them to play too comfortable and get into a rhythm early on,” San Antonio center Pau Gasol said. “They were executing well, give them credit, but we didn’t put enough pressure on their offense to force them to take tougher shots.”
The Jazz built a 12-point lead in the opening quarter by shooting 72 percent from the field and 88 percent on 3s. Utah made seven 3-pointers in the first quarter, one more than their previous season high for a game.
“Some of it’s just basketball gods,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “There are nights like that and then there are nights like tonight. The biggest thing for our guys is that they don’t get discouraged when they miss and keep shooting.”
Rodney Hood finished with 19 points, Trey Lyles had 15 and Shelvin Mack 14 for Utah, which finished 15 for 31 from 3-point range.
It didn’t matter if the Spurs contested the shots or not, Utah’s shots were falling in the first quarter. San Antonio didn’t panic, sticking to their rotations and sets.
The Spurs erased a 47-31 deficit, going on a 15-0 run over a 6-minute span. Leonard’s 16-foot jumper pulled San Antonio within 47-46 and LaMarcus Aldridge’s 18-footer tied the game at 48.
Aldridge finished with 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting.
But Lyles revived Utah’s offense, scoring all but two points during a 10-0 run in the third quarter that gave the Jazz a 70-63 lead they would never relinquish.
Lyles finished 2 for 7 on 3-point attempts and Hood was 4 for 8.
Jazz: Mack was 0 for 4 on 3-pointers this season before making his only two attempts against the Spurs. … F Boris Diaw missed his first game of the season, sitting out against his former team with a bruised right leg. Diaw, who played with San Antonio from 2012-2016, received a loud ovation when his image was shown on the video boards. Hill, who played three seasons in San Antonio, also received a loud ovation. … Utah was winless in its two road games this season, losing by an average of 11 points.
Spurs: San Antonio has a winning record in the regular season for all but 48 days since 1997. … Jonathan Simmons made his first start of the season. Filling in for Danny Green, Simmons had two points in 29 minutes. Green is sidelined by a strained left quadriceps. … Tony Parker is 73rd in league history with 1,084 games played, breaking a tie with Antawn Jamison and Dell Curry.
Jazz: Host Dallas on Wednesday.
Spurs: At the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.