Lonnie Walker IV banked in a jumper with 14.9 seconds left and the San Antonio Spurs snapped the Utah Jazz’s eight-game winning streak with a 128-126 victory Friday night.
Keldon Johnson scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead San Antonio. Derrick White added 22 points and Walker chipped in 19.
“This is obviously a learning season, but I feel like we’ve got the talent and the group to be able to win games,” San Antonio guard Dejounte Murray said. “And we’ve proven that even with the games we lost.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 27 points for the Jazz. Jordan Clarkson added 21 and Mike Conley had 18. Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Mitchell scored back-to-back baskets to give the Jazz a 126-125 lead with 33 seconds left. Walker answered with the go-ahead jumper. He drove to the rim and floated his shot past Gobert.
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (11) drives the basket as San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV (1) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Dec. 17 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)
“The play was for Dejounte coming off a triple screen,” Walker said. “I kind of identified it early that they were hard on him. They knew he was going to get the shot. It was just my time to do what I do.”
Mitchell had two cracks at a go-ahead basket in the final seconds but missed both shots.
“That’s the basketball gods,” Mitchell said. “When you don’t defend all game, you don’t deserve to have that shot to go in.”
Utah’s efficient shooting kept San Antonio from building much of a lead. The Jazz shot 26 of 46 from the field in the first half and made eight 3-pointers.
Utah never trailed in the second quarter after Conley and Clarkson scored back-to-back baskets to break a 39-39 tie. The Jazz eventually built a 17-point lead before halftime, going up 73-56 on Mitchell’s second-chance 3-pointer that capped a 10-1 run.
San Antonio rallied in the third quarter and erased Utah’s double-digit lead. Murray assisted three straight baskets during a 9-0 run that cut the deficit to one. Walker then hit a jumper and assisted another from Devin Vassell to put the Spurs ahead 95-93.
“We lost focus and were content to trade with them,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Then when you start trading and they’re missing and you’re making, you end up with a 41-23 third quarter. To me it’s hard to overcome that and turn it back on again.”
San Antonio shot 17 of 25 from the field during the third quarter. The Spurs limited the Jazz 37.5% shooting in the same span.
“That’s our identity,” Johnson said. “Defense and sharing the ball on offense.”
Spurs: Murray had a triple-double for the second time in three games after finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. … San Antonio committed zero turnovers in the third quarter and scored a season-high 41 points. … The Spurs scored 22 points off 13 Utah turnovers.
Jazz: Mitchell went 4 of 13 from the field in the second half. … Utah outscored San Antonio 64-54 in the paint and 18-15 in second-chance points.
Walker returned to action after sitting out against Charlotte on Wednesday while dealing with a bout of gastroenteritis. It was the first game he missed this season.
A headache also plagued Walker for nearly a week, and he felt rejuvenated after getting some rest.
“I actually slept throughout my whole birthday (on Tuesday),” Walker said. “I didn’t do nothing. It was well worth it. It was my first birthday actually being home. Usually, I’ve got a game and I’m away. It’s probably the best birthday I had in (many) years.”
The Spurs attempted a season-high 41 3-pointers, making 15. Six players made a 3-pointer, led by Johnson, who went 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Spurs: Visit Sacramento on Sunday.
Jazz: Host Washington on Saturday.