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Spurs reach for the brooms in Utah
(Sports Network) - With Utah on the brink don't expect top-seeded San Antonio to take its foot of the gas anytime soon.
The Spurs are hoping to bury the memories of last season's embarrassing first- round playoff loss and finish a sweep of the Jazz when the two teams meet in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals at EnergySolutions Arena.
Tony Parker poured in 16 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday as San Antonio took a commanding 3-0 series lead with a 102-90 victory.
Tim Duncan tallied 17 points and Danny Green 14 for the Spurs, who were also the No. 1 seed last season but lost to eighth place Memphis in the first round. Stephen Jackson had 13 points and Tiago Splitter returned from a sprained left wrist to score 10 for the Spurs.
"I think we just try to limit everything they do well," Parker said. "We know they're very good in transition. We know they're going to crash the boards and go hard to the offensive boards. We try to make sure we control all the stuff that makes them good."
Al Jefferson had 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Devin Harris also scored 21 for Utah. Derrick Favors added 15 points and 11 rebounds for his first career postseason double-double.
"We just couldn't put it together to get over the hump against these guys," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They execute very well. We didn't get the energy or a sense of urgency when we had to."
The Spurs have been especially dominant in the paint during this series. After outscoring the Jazz 58-44 inside during Game 1, San Antonio followed it up by outscoring Utah 62-36 in Game 2, matching a franchise playoff-high. Game 3 was more of the same with the Spurs holding a 50-28 scoring advantage in the paint.
Another key has been San Antonio's experience. Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili have now played 125 playoff games as teammates, the most among any active trio in the NBA. Meanwhile, Saturday's victory was the 111th career postseason one for Gregg Popovich, third all-time behind Phil Jackson (229) and Pat Riley (171).
"They know that if they just stick with each other and the system that often times things are going to turn your way," Popovich, who was named NBA Coach of the Year last week, said of his star trio. "That experience they have gained over a long period of time and I guess they feel comfortable with each other when they're in a tough environment like here in Utah."
The Jazz are squarely behind the 8-ball now. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit and Utah is 22-24 all-time in elimination games.
"We know they're going to come out. They have a lot of pride and they're going to come out and it's going to be a tough closeout game, especially here in Utah," Duncan said. "We expect that. We're going to play the game the exact same way that we have been."
"We can't make mistakes," Jefferson countered. "We've got play a perfect game to even have a chance to beat a team like this. We made too many mistakes during the crunch time of the game and they made us pay every time, so we've just got to stop making mistakes."
These teams have met in the postseason four times previously with a John Stockton and Karl Malone-led Jazz group taking the first three series in 1994, '96 and '98 before the Spurs broke through in the West finals in 2007.
Game 5 of the best-of-seven series, if necessary, will be Wednesday back in San Antonio.
05/07 10:31:37 ET
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