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News » Another flat note

Another flat note

Another flat note SALT LAKE CITY - After making 10 of his first 13 shots, scoring a career-high 28 points and dragging the Spurs out of a deep, fourth-quarter hole to within one shot of victory, Matt Bonner had the Spurs poised for a dream ending to their Monday night game against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.

Instead, the Spurs will have a few nightmares about their 104-101 loss, their third straight after Bonner's 14th shot, a running hook from 13 feet out on the right side, went around the rim and back out with just over a second remaining in the Jazz victory.

Bonner was supposed to be a decoy on the play Spurs coach Gregg Popovich drew up during a timeout with 22 seconds left, his team trailing 102-101 following Deron Williams' 18-foot pull-up jumper.

Utah's aggression defending Richard Jefferson's in-bounds pass took away the Spurs' first two options - a pass to Manu Ginobili in the corner or a pass to Tim Duncan at the elbow.

Instead, Jefferson got the ball to Duncan, who got it to Bonner outside the 3-point arc on the left side, 25 feet from the basket.

On this night, that seemed like a good thing for the Spurs , given Bonner's hot hand.

"It wasn't drawn up for him," Popovich said. "Sometimes, what you draw doesn't happen, and someone else ends up doing something. It wasn't drawn for him, but he did the best job he could under the circumstances."

Bonner looked momentarily for either Ginobili or Duncan, but neither could get free. Bonner started a drive across the lane and launched his shot as 17,565 in the arena gasped and erupted when the ball spun out and Jazz center Mehmet Okur grabbed it.

"I thought it was in," Bonner said. "When it left my hand, it felt good. It looked like it was in, and down, and then it popped out.

"I don't know. It was just a tough miss."

Ginobili said Bonner deserved better on the shot.

"It was a broken play," Ginobili said. "We couldn't do what we wanted, but Matt made a good play. He just couldn't make that one shot. It would have been an unbelievable night."

The Spurs came into one of the NBA's most hostile arenas with the requisite sense of urgency to end their two-game skid.

They got 13 points from Duncan in the first 10 minutes and built an early 15-point lead.

The Jazz changed the dynamic of a close game in the third period, outscoring the Spurs 37-19 and threatening to turn the game into a rout. They led by as many as 12 and went into the fourth with a 10-point edge.

"We really had a bad third quarter," Popovich said, "and I was proud of the way we dug out of it, because we got creamed in the that quarter, badly, and I thought the guys did a good job of hanging in there and getting back in the game and giving themselves a chance to win."

The Spurs actually erased all of Utah's lead and took one of their own, at 96-94, before Carlos Boozer scored on two wide-open jumpers for which Duncan took personal blame.

"Just too many mistakes, especially on my part, down towards the end there," he said. "Carlos with two or three baskets down at the end there. And I kind of strung Matty out on that last play, too. A bad decision on my part."

Monday's loss dropped the Spurs to 9-9.

The last time the Spurs were .500 this late in a season was 2003-04, when they were also 9-9. They dropped one game under-.500 when the Lakers beat them at the AT&T Center.

What followed was a 13-game win streak, the turning point in a 57-win season.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 9, 2009


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