SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are making the Western Conference finals look way too easy.
Duncan had 26 points and 14 rebounds, and Parker lived up to his pledge of giving the Utah Jazz “no hope” by sinking all six of his first-half shots, helping the San Antonio Spurs build a big halftime lead that turned into a 105-96 victory in Game 2 of the series Tuesday night.
Parker finished with 17 points and 14 assists, his most ever in a playoff game. Manu Ginobili added 17 points as the Spurs took a 2-0 lead, moving halfway to reaching the NBA finals for the third time in five years.
They got this close by outlasting the Phoenix Suns in a tense second-round series many considered the de facto conference finals, if not the NBA finals — and, so far, Utah has done little to dismiss that theory.
The Jazz never led in this game, and haven’t led since the seventh minute of the opener. While Carlos Boozer bounced back from a poor game and the club started strong, a second straight second-quarter meltdown left Utah trailing by 17 at halftime and 22 a few minutes into the third quarter. They got within seven in the final period, but were always turned away by big baskets from San Antonio’s playoff-tested veterans.
Now the Jazz are headed home trailing 0-2 for the second time this postseason.
They fought back in the first round against Houston, but the Rockets are no comparison to the Spurs, champions in 2005 and’03. Plus there’s this bit of history to overcome: Only two of the previous 57 teams to lose the first two games of a conference finals have advanced.
“They’re a much better home team,” Duncan said. “We’re looking for a dog fight.”