Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) shoots as San Antonio...

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) shoots as San Antonio Spurs forward Jeremy Sochan (10) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, in Salt Lake City. Credit: AP/Rick Bowmer

SALT LAKE CITY — Lauri Markkanen scored 26 points and the Utah Jazz beat the San Antonio Spurs 128-109 on Sunday night to snap a five-game skid.

Jordan Clarkson added 22 points and 10 assists for the Jazz. John Collins had 20 points and Collin Sexton added 16 points and 10 assists.

The Jazz moved within three games of Golden State for the final Western Conference play-in spot ahead of a three-game road swing.

Utah played tough defense and thrived in transition, scoring 34 points off 20 San Antonio turnovers and outscoring the Spurs 28-14 on the fast break.

“We showed our hands and we kind got in passing lanes, so that’s what we got to do every game,” Markkanen said. “Just fly around. Not just running, but really trying to make the passes tough for them. We got some guys on this team with long wingspans and we try to use that to our advantage.”

Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 27 points and Victor Wembanyama added 22 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for the Spurs, who lost for the 11th time in 12 games. Zach Collins finished with 17 points and Tre Jones had 15 points and nine assists.

“We were a little bit slow and sloppy today,” Wembanyama said. “Maybe we were tired, so we have to make extra efforts and be smarter than usual.”

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) holds his head...

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) holds his head during the the second half of an NBA basketball game against Utah Jazz Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, in Salt Lake City. Credit: AP/Rick Bowmer

After trailing by 24 points before halftime, San Antonio rallied early in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back 3s from Vassell and Wembanyama keyed a 17-7 run that cut Utah’s lead to 100-91.

The Jazz stopped the rally by scoring baskets on six straight possessions — punctuated by back-to-back 3s from Clarkson and Markkanen — and extended their lead to 116-95 with 5:15 left.

“Sometimes with the young players the intentions may be right — I don’t think it was a selfish night — but they think, ‘I want to make a play’ and then next guy wants to make a play,” Spurs assistant coach Mitch Johnson said. “But sometimes you got to just trust the team to make the play.”

San Antonio fell behind by double digits after committing eight first-quarter turnovers, leading to 13 points for Utah. The Jazz held the Spurs to 18 points in the period.

Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler, left, blocks a shot by...

Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler, left, blocks a shot by San Antonio Spurs forward Zach Collins, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, in Salt Lake City. Credit: AP/Rick Bowmer

Utah used a 15-2 run to build a 32-15 lead in the final minute of the first. Markkanen powered the run with three baskets and scored 11 points during the quarter.

Adjusting to Wembanyama’s presence was key for the Jazz. The Spurs center tallied three blocks early in the first quarter before Utah started running more plays designed to draw him away from the basket.

“Because he’s such an elite rim protector, we needed to put him in space as much as possible,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “It doesn’t mean he’s not going to come help at times, but it’s easier to see the help coming when it starts on the perimeter and has to (go) a long way to the basket.”

Utah led 63-39 at halftime, shooting 58% from the field in the second quarter and holding the Spurs to a season low in first-half points for a Jazz opponent.

UP NEXT

San Antonio visits Minnesota on Tuesday.

Utah visits Atlanta on Tuesday.

More NBA news

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