SAN ANTONIO — Two days after missing a critical free throw, DeMar DeRozan stepped to the line and put the game away for the San Antonio Spurs.
DeRozan scored a season-high 38 points and San Antonio held on for a 127-120 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.
This season has tested DeRozan’s resolve as he has whiffed on several late shots and free throws, including missing the second of two free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining in a 110-109 loss to Chicago on Monday.
Still, the 30-year-old has maintained a shooter’s mentality.
"When you’re in that situation again, you know what you’re supposed to be doing," DeRozan said. "Knock down free throws, that’s how you’ve got to think. You can’t dwell or let the previous shot get you down or you’re going to overthink it and miss shots in that same moment."
DeRozan had 21 points in the second half against Utah, including a pair of mid-range jumpers from the right baseline in the final 3 minutes to help seal the victory. He also was 3 for 4 on free throws in the final 50 seconds.
"We defended him," Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. "He hit tough shots."
DeRozan was 11-for-19 shooting, surpassing 1,000 points for the 10th straight season and 16,000 points for his career.
Mitchell had 31 points in 33 minutes and San Antonio native Jordan Clarkson added 20 points for the Jazz. Utah dropped into fourth in the West behind Denver.
San Antonio had a prolific start despite the absence of LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed his second straight game with a sprained right thumb.
"Everybody contributed tonight," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We made adjustments and we had guys on the same page, where usually if we make a lot of adjustments there’s a couple of guys that are not in the same arena."
Patty Mills had 18 points and Dejounte Murray 16 points for the Spurs.
The Spurs led 70-62 at the half, their second-highest total in the first half this season. It was also the second-most points the Jazz have allowed in the first half.
"We started the game too soft," Utah centre Rudy Gobert said. "These guys got confidence early and when you give confidence to these guys they can be pretty good. I feel like we played better second half, but it was a little too late."
Jazz: Utah’s coaching staff and players grew agitated when official Tre Maddox whistled for a timeout as point guard Mike Conley was dribbling up court. Officials conferred and ruled it was an inadvertent whistle after Conley and Utah coach Quinn Snyder denied calling a timeout. â€¦ Clarkson had 25 points, four rebounds and three assists in his previous outing in San Antonio while still playing Cleveland. The Cavaliers traded Clarkson to Utah on Dec. 23 for Dante Exum. â€¦ Utah’s entire roster was healthy and available.
Spurs: San Antonio has led by 10 points or more in 55 per cent of its games. The Spurs are 17-9 in those games. â€¦ Jakob Poeltl picked up two fouls in the game’s first 2 1/2 minutes, forcing coach Gregg Popovich to insert seldom-used Chimezie Metu. Poeltl would not pick up another foul while scoring four points in 22 minutes.
DeRozan was humbled to learn he had surpassed 16,000 career points.
He joins Aldridge, LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry to reach that milestone since 2009.
"It’s incredible," DeRozan said. "Coming from Compton, always dreaming of playing in the NBA. Now, having 16,000 points is just an honour. My health, being able to play in this game for a long time and be able to compete at a high level every single night and being in position to go out there and be the type of player that I am."
OFF THEY GO
The Spurs host Charlotte on Saturday before embarking on their annual Rodeo Road Trip. The nearly month-long excursion is necessitated by the AT&T Center preparing for and hosting the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.
This season’s trip consists of eight games in five states over 20 days, beginning Feb. 3 against the Los Angeles Clippers and ending Feb. 23 at Oklahoma City.
San Antonio’s next home game is Feb. 26 against Dallas.
Jazz: At Denver on Thursday night.
Spurs: Host Charlotte on Saturday night.