by Jerry Feitelberg
Oakland- The game between the Golden State Warriors and the Utah Jazz Tuesday night at Oracle Arena had the feel of a playoff game. Both teams came into the contest red hot. The Jazz had were 12-3 entering the game, and the Warriors were 15-1. The Warriors, who started slowly against Phoenix and Miami, were determined to get off to a good start against the Jazz. Both teams struggled to put points on the board in the early going. Both squads played excellent defense until late in the quarter. The Warriors finished the first 12 minutes with a 25-14 advantage. With the score 11-5, Klay Thompson left the game with an injured left hand. He went to the locker room and came back with his middle finger and ring finger taped together. Thompson suffered a sprained ring finger and was able to continue.
The Jazz won the second quarter 30-22 to finish the first half trailing the W’s 47-44. The Jazz’ Jae Crowder, who tormented the Dubs, when he was with Boston, made two threes to keep Utah in the game. As mentioned above, both teams viewed the contest like a playoff game, and neither team could get much offense going. The Warriors made just four threes in twenty attempts. The Jazz was slightly better as they connected five times in eleven tries. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry led the W’s with eleven each. Klay had six, and Andre Iguodala helped out with two three-point buckets. Leading scorers for the Jazz were Rudy Gobert, Roye O’Neale, and Jae Crowder with 8 each. Donovan Mitchell had 7.
Utah, feeling the shift in momentum, took it to the Warriors in the third period. The Warriors did score 34 in the period, but Utah scored 40. They grabbed their first lead of the game since they started the game 2-0. They led 67-66. The W’s fought back, but Utah was able to build a five-point advantage 78-73. The Warriors trailed 79-78 after Durant made a basket and free throw. Utah didn’t wilt and finished the quarter leading 84-81. The Jazz upped the lead to seven 91-84. It was at this point that the Warriors went on a 22-6 run to go ahead 108-97. The Warriors, who were one for fifteen on threes to start the game, started to hit them. Draymond Green started the run with a basket. Andre Iguodala followed with a steal and a dunk. Klay hit a three. Later in the spurt, Steph Curry made two threes in a row. The Warriors were able to maintain the lead, and they won another thriller 115-108.
Game Notes and Stats- With the win, the W’s are 16-1 in their last 17 games and are now 41-15 for the year. Utah drops down to 32-25. The Jazz, coached by Quin Snyder, may be the team that no one wants to face in the playoffs.
Leading scorers for the W’s were Kevin Durant with 27, Steph 24, and Klay 22. Klay didn’t play as many minutes as usual and was fresh when he started the fourth quarter. He tallied eight points that helped the Dubs stay close. He passed Dale Ellis with his 1720th three-pointer. Iguodala had 13 points, 5 boards, 3 assists, and made three 3s in 3 tries. DeMarcus Cousins had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Cousins, Kevon Looney, and Draymond Green kept Rudy Gobert in check all night long. The big Frenchman finished with 13. Donovan Mitchell found his game in the second half and led the Jazz with 25. He made three threes in eight attempts. Ricky Rubio had 16. Joe Ingles finished with five. Stopping Ingles had been a problem for the Dubs as the Jazz had beaten them five times in the last 7 games. Ingles was not able to damage from beyond the three-point arc Tuesday night.
The Warriors travel to Portland to pay the Blazers Wednesday night. Game time is at 7:30 pm. This will be the last game for the Warriors before All-Star weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson will represent the Warriors.