Vassell, Johnson help Spurs hold on to beat Jazz, 126-122
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Devin Vassell had 24 points, Keldon Johnson added 21 points and the San Antonio Spurs fended…
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Devin Vassell had 24 points, Keldon Johnson added 21 points and the San Antonio Spurs fended off the Utah Jazz in the final minutes for a 126-122 victory Monday night.
The Spurs led 121-110 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining. The Jazz scored seven points in 33 seconds, but they could not complete the rally.
Lauri Markkanen had 32 points and Jordan Clarkson added 25 points for Utah, which had won two straight.
Clarkson’s 3-pointer pulled Utah within 123-120 with 30.1 seconds remaining but Tre Jones tossed in a floater 23 seconds later to seal the victory.
Jones had 11 points and Jakob Poeltl added 16 points for San Antonio.
The game started 40 minutes later than scheduled due to what the Spurs termed “a potential security threat, which has impacted fans entering the AT&T Center.”
The delay along with a weekend holiday break for both teams likely contributed to a sluggish start that resulted in a combined 19 points in the opening six minutes.
Slow starts have plagued the Spurs this season, but they rallied to build a 12-point lead in the first half. San Antonio shot 56 percent from the field in the first half with Johnson scoring 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting.
Utah coach Will Hardy spent 11 seasons with San Antonio, working his way up from an intern to a lead assistant under Gregg Popovich. Hardy said one of the biggest lessons imparted by Popovich was “competing every single day.”
Hardy discovered that first-hand in his initial matchup with his mentor.
Players and staff for both teams, stadium employees and a few thousand fans were already inside when a potential security threat was announced. No one was evacuated, but no more fans were allowed to enter for about half an hour.
Fans were allowed in again after law enforcement determined there was no threat, leading to a 40-minute delay.
Jazz: Markkanen has scored at least 30 points in eight games this season. … Kelly Olynyk missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle. … F Rudy Gay was honored by the Spurs prior to tip-off with a video highlighting his four seasons with the team.
Spurs: San Antonio did not have any injuries to report for the first time in more than a month. The Spurs starting lineup played together for just the third time in the last 12 games and for only the 14th time in 33 games this season. … San Antonio will complete its seventh of 14 back-to-back games this season on Tuesday in Oklahoma City. The Spurs are 1-5 in the opening game and 1-5 in the closing contest.
Jazz: At Golden State on Wednesday.
Spurs: At Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
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