The Utah Jazz needed overtime while the San Antonio Spurs rolled to a rout on Sunday as they squared both Western Conference series in the National Basketball Association playoffs.
Deron Williams scored 29 points with 14 assists for the Jazz, who blew a sizeable fourth-quarter lead but eked out the 123-115 overtime triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers to knot their best-of-seven second-round series at two games apiece.
Reigning NBA champions San Antonio then leveled their series against the New Orleans Hornets at 2-2 with a 100-80 home triumph over the New Orleans Hornets.
Spurs superstar Tim Duncan collected 22 points and 15 rebounds and Tony Parker added 21 to send San Antonio into game five in New Orleans on Tuesday on even terms.
An impressive 21-6 surge to start the second quarter broke it open for San Antonio, who outscored the Hornets 61-39 in the second and third periods.
They led by as many as 25 points at one stage and were never challenged in the second half.
“We knew we had to win two games at home and we did,” Parker said. “We just did our job. We won two games and now it’s back to zero-zero. Game five is going to be huge. They’re going to play a little better, they’re going to shoot the ball a little better. We have to be ready for that.”
The Hornets trailed 85-61 at the start of the fourth quarter and coach Byron Scott benched all five of his starters.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich quickly pulled Duncan, who joined Parker on the sidelines for the rest of the game.
Chris Paul led the Hornets with 23 points, one of just two New Orleans starters in double figures.
Paul scored eight points in the first quarter, which ended with the Hornets trailing 24-22.
Then the Spurs heated up. Manu Ginobili and Ime Udoka hit back-to-back 3-pointers which sparked the Spurs to a burst that saw them connect on 9-of-11 shots from the field.
After Parker sank an 18-footer with 5:27 left in the first half, San Antonio built a 45-28 lead. Sixteen of San Antonio’s 31 second-quarter points came in the paint.
“We made some shots tonight,” Duncan said. “It’s all about moving the ball against these guys. We know where they’re coming from, we understand where they’re going to double team and we’ve got to find our shooters and make sure the knock down shots.”
Now the Spurs must try to keep the momentum when the series returns to New Orleans.
“We’ve done nothing but win our home games — as have they,” Duncan said. “We’re going to have to go there and try to steal one.”
The same goes for the Jazz, who head to Los Angeles for game five against the Lakers on Wednesday.
In Salt Lake City, Lakers star Kobe Bryant was struggling much of the game with a sore back.
He scored 33 points but managed just eight in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Williams’ most important assist of the game went to Andrei Kirilenko for a dunk with 36 seconds remaining in overtime. Kirilenko drew the foul and converted the three-point play to give the Jazz a five-point cushion.
On the Lakers’ next possession, Bryant misfired on a wild drive to the basket. Carlos Boozer grabbed the rebound and quickly got the ball to Utah’s best foul shooter, Kyle Korver, who buried two shots from the line to help seal the win.
The Jazz went 6-of-6 from the line in the final 30 seconds to preserve the victory.
The Lakers had erased a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Lamar Odom’s putback tying the game with 4.6 seconds left.