Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) takes the ball down court against the Utah Jazz on Mon May 10, 2021 at the Chase Center in San Francisco (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors (36-33) met the Utah Jazz (50-19) Monday night at the Chase Center. The Jazz, winners of five straight games, had their sights on avenging the 131-119 loss to the Warriors on March 14th. The Jazz entered the game with the best record in the Western Conference, 50-18.
The Warriors were fighting to remain in eighth place in the Western Conference. It felt as if it were the first game of the playoffs: the Jazz, the only team in the NBA in the top five offensively and defensively. The Jazz entered the game averaging 17 threes a night.
They had the best record, defending the opposing team’s three-point efforts. Both teams were missing key places. Utah’s point guard, Michael Conley, was out with a hamstring injury. The other guard, Donovan Mitchell, was not able to play due to an ankle injury.
The Warriors were missing Daminon Lee due to Covid-19. Kelly Oubre, Jr was out with a torn ligament in his wrist, and Eric Paschall, slated to return on May 11th, sat out with a hip problem. With the two Utah guards out, the Warriors knew the Jazz would commit turnovers.
Could the Warriors capitalize on their miscues? The answer was yes. The Warriors defense forced 15 Utah turnover that translated into 26 points for the Warriors. The Warriors knew that they had to find a way to stop Utah in the fourth quarter. The Jazz averaged 31 points in the last period. Utah put pressure on the Warriors defense as they poured in 41 points in the last 12 minutes. Stephen Curry answered with a three to lead the Warriors to a hard-fought 119-116 win.
Utah’s head coach Quin Snyder assigned Royce O’Neale to guard Curry for most of the first half. O’Neale threw a blanket over Curry as he attempted his three-point shots. Curry started the game with a three. He did not make another three in the first half.
The first half was very close. Neither team would give an inch. The Warriors finished the first period leading 31-30. The second period was a defensive struggle. The Warriors won the quarter by four points to finish the first half with a five-point advantage 54-49. Curry led the Warriors with 15 points. Draymond Green had ten. Andrew Wiggins helped out with eight. Jordan Poole and Kent Bazemore each had seven. The Jazz leading scorers were Bojan Bogdanovic with 15, and Jordan Clarkson, coming off the bench, had 12.
The Warriors won the third quarter 35-26 to finish the third period leading by 14 points, 89-75. Curry had his magic working as he poured in 14 points in the period. Kent Bazemore helped out with ten. Jordan Poole made the shot of the night as he made a 55-foot three-point shot as the buzzer sounded to end the third period. The Warriors didn’t know it at the time, but that three-pointer turned out to be huge.
With the second unit on the floor, the Warriors increased the lead to 17, 94-77. The Jazz kept chipping away at the lead. The Warriors could not stop Utah’s, Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson, a candidate for sixth-man of the year, kept making baskets. He couldn’t make a three in the first half. He made several in the fourth quarter. The Jazz closed to within seven, 122-105, with three minutes left to play.
Their defense continued to stop the Warriors offense. Utah tied the game 112-112. The Jazz went ahead briefly 113-112. Bazemore made a basket to make it 114-113. Clarkson hit a three, and the Jazz led 116-114 with 29 seconds left to play. Curry answered with a three to give the Warriors the advantage 117-116 with 13.4 seconds left. The Warriors had to find a way to stop the Jazz.
They did. Utah did not score on their possession after Curry’s bucket. The Jazz fouled Curry, and he made the two free throws to give the Warriors a three-point lead 119-116 with five seconds left. The Warriors had to stop Utah from tying the game with a three-pointer. They focused on Bogdanovic as the player to defend. The Warriors forced a turnover to win the game 119-116.
Game Notes and Stats-With the win, the Warriors improve to 36-33. They are in eighth place in the Western Conference. Utah is now 50-19 for the year.
Curry’s line was 36 points, four rebounds, and six assists. Curry was 11-for-25 from the floor, and he was three-for-13 from downtown. It was the 37th game that Curry had 30 or more points. The Warriors had four other players in double figures. Jordan Poole added 20 points in 18 minutes of playing time.
Bazemore had 19, Wiggins 14, and Green had 12. Green had a double-double with ten assists, too. Kevon Looney finished the night with 13 rebounds. The third game in a row for Looney with double-digit rebounds, the first time in his career. The team shot 47% from the floor. They made 14 threes in 42 tries.
Jordan Clarkson had a big night with 41 points for Utah. He was 16-for-33 from the floor and connected on five threes. Bogdanovic had 26 points and four threes. The Warriors defense held Rudy Gobert to 10 points. Royce O’Neale was the only other Jazz player in double figures with 10.
The Warriors meet the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night at the Chase Center. The game will start at 7 pm.