NBA

Jazz concede they must 'rewrite history' as Spurs go for sweep

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The Associated Press
5/6/2012 4:46:16 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Jazz were hoping they could "shock the world" with an upset of the top-seeded Spurs yet now acknowledge surviving the first-round Western Conference series would be to "rewrite history."

The Spurs are intent on closing out the series in Game 4 on Monday.

"We want to get it done," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said Sunday after a short practice. "Obviously we want to stay away from injuries, get as much rest as possible, stay as fresh as possible. All of that equals trying to get the series done as quickly as possible."

Jazz centre Al Jefferson won't concede the game but says the Spurs -- winners of 13 straight now -- are the best team in the playoffs.

"I just think we're playing against a team that is at its peak," said Jefferson, who has struggled to defend the Spurs' pick-and-roll and its depth. "I don't see nobody beating them. We ain't given up trying. But this is a great team."

Utah has lost the first three games by 58 points combined and star sixth-man Manu Ginobili hasn't even made a 3-pointer.

As the Jazz look for answers, coach Tyrone Corbin said he may consider giving second-year pro Derrick Favours a start but wouldn't announce any decision until Monday.

The 6-10 Favours has 31 points, 28 rebounds and four blocks in three games and saw his most extensive action Saturday.

Corbin played Favours 32 minutes in Saturday's 102-90 loss but said he deserves even more time because his athleticism, competitive nature and desire are making an impact.

"His curve for learning is shortening," Corbin said. "He's learning things on the fly. He wants to get better every night he steps on the floor. ... Even though we haven't had the success, he's demonstrated he has that other level in him."

Corbin said it's also obvious Favours is ticked after losing.

"I think all of our guys feel bad about losing, just some guys you see it a little more in their faces and demeanour," Corbin said. "He'll learn. He'll get better because there's a bad taste in his mouth, and he don't like it."

Corbin also had praise for rookies Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, and wished he had played Burks more after he contributed 11 points and two rebounds in 15 minutes, and was 3 of 4 from the free-throw line.

While the young players are relishing every minute, Jazz veteran Paul Millsap is finding the series particularly painful.

He has been the heart and soul of the team but has struggled to find his shot in the playoffs.

The last two games he is a combined 8 of 23, and has averaged nine points -- well below his 16.6 points per game during the regular season.

Worse yet, he has now lost seven consecutive playoff games -- three this series against San Antonio and four straight when the Jazz were swept out of the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers two years ago.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself and haven't played my best basketball," said Millsap, who has gone against Boris Diaw much of the time. "I haven't been the leader that I'm supposed to be. So a lot of it weighs on my shoulders."

The Spurs have benefited from playing with two games of rest between each of the first three games and figure to get even more if they can pull off the sweep.

The Jazz-Spurs winner faces the Memphis-LA Clippers winner, which the Clippers lead 2-1 after a pair of dramatic comeback wins in Games 1 and 3. Game 7 of the Grizzlies-Clippers series is set for May 13.

No NBA team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven series.

"We're trying to rewrite history," Corbin said. "We can't look at history of being down 3-0 and all that. It's one game at a time. It's not going to be easy.

"They want to embarrass you, bury you, bury you on your home floor in front of the home fans."

And despite the lopsided losses, the Spurs know they can do better.

Ginobili usually lights it up against the Jazz. But he has scored just 17 point in three games, is shooting 32 per cent (7 of 22) and is 0 for 8 from 3-point range.

He made a difference Saturday with 10 assists.

"We are a different team," Ginobili said. "We are playing different offence and Tony (Parker) is playing better than ever. It's not our main concern. I don't think it's a big issue who's scoring. In the past I needed to score more and force the issue. I don't think this year it's happening. We'll see next game or if we win, the next series."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wasn't worried about Ginobili's mini shooting slump.

"I don't even think about it," Popovich said. "He's Manu."

Likewise, he shrugged off Jefferson's comments that the Spurs were the best team.

"The best team out there is not decided for a while yet," Popovich said. "We've got a lot of work to do if we want to be that team and we're trying."

Tony Parker (Photo: D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images)

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(Photo: D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images)
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