It should come as no surprise that after an exultant win over the Clippers, the Golden State Warriors would have an uneven performance in Utah against the Jazz on the second half of a back-to-back.
The Warriors built a 25-point lead in the first half only to allow the Jazz — playing without four starters — to trim that advantage down to five in the fourth quarter. The Dubs succumbed to lazy ball movement and sloppy passes (16 turnovers) as the Jazz gamely chipped away at the lead behind Rudy Gobert and a bunch of second string players you’ve probably never heard of. Utah finally ran out of talent in the final minutes as the superstar-laden Warriors were able to get 45 combined points from Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant to eke out the victory.
Save for a few KD dunks and Chef Curry highlights, the game was about as exciting as doing your taxes while eating a mealy apple.
Here are 10 thoughts on the game:
1. On paper, this was a great matchup, a circle-the-calendar kind of a game. The young Jazz played the Warriors tough last season and they have the kind of long and athletic frontline that traditionally trouble the Dubs. Utah added George Hill in the summer, a point guard that can bother Curry on the perimeter and spread the floor on offense. They’re 14-10 and trending in the right direction. They’re ranked seventh in net rating (per basketball-reference.com).
2. And through one quarter, that’s exactly how it looked as the Dubs blasted out of the gates for a 29-5 advantage. However, whether it was complacency, fatigue, lack of concentration or a combination of the three, they allowed the Jazz to make it competitive behind 20 points from the Stifle Tower and 40 combined from (I’m not kidding) Sheldon Mack and Joe Ingles. Ingles was especially clutch in the second-half where he hit three 3-pointers (5-of-9 for the game).
3. Fortunately for the Warriors, they are a much better team than the Jazz and decided to exert that dominance. Kevin Durant scored 11 points down the stretch (six coming off vicious dunks) and Ian Clark banged home two 3-pointers for the final separation and the win.
4. After shooting 3-of-5 from distance in LA, Draymond Green did himself one better in this game hitting 4-of-6. Dray had 13 points, 10 boards, 8 assists, 4 steals and a scary incident in the fourth quarter when he crumpled to the ground after Curry stepped on his foot. Steve Kerr said post-game he doesn’t think it’ll be a problemgoing forward, but with a game against the Mike Conley-less Grizzlies coming up, this might be an opportune time to let Dray heal up.
5. Patrick McCaw and Ian Clark made the most of their increased minutes while Shaun Livingston was out for rest. The rookie had 10 points in the first half and the former Jazz hit two timely 3-pointers to highlight a mini-revenge game.
6. You know you’re a Warriors homer when you see Jamal Crawford hit a crazy shot and you think it’s 90% luck. But when you see Steph connect on a one-handed rainbow heave after getting fouled, you think it’s at least50% skill.
7. The Dubs were outscored by nine points when Andre Igoudala was in the game, dragging down his league-leading plus-minus rating for a reserve.
8. Boris Diaw (8 points, 4 rebounds) is my favorite NBA player for non-basketball reasons. Dude carries an espresso machine with him to games and walks his dog while riding a Segway. Zach Lowe’s latest podcast is a must-listen for anyone into the minutiae of professional athlete life.
9. If you’ve watched the Jazz on League Pass this year, you’ve seen Quin Snyder call timeouts late in ball games when the outcome has already been decided. Ostensibly, it’s to run a play and have a “teaching moment” for his young squad, but apparently Draymond doesn’t think it’s a worthwhile strategy.
10. Rookie Damian Jones was activated before the game but, alas, with the blowout thwarted, Dubs fans will have to wait a little longer to get a glimpse of the mobile big man in action.