ORACLE ARENA — The Utah Jazz danced back into playoff contention Sunday evening, beating the Warriors, 97-90 in front of another sellout crowd.
The Warriors and the Jazz both came into the building with playoffs on their minds. The Warriors with a chance to clinch their first playoff berth since 2007, and Utah just a half game behind the Lakers for the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference.
With the Lakers losing earlier in the afternoon to the Clippers, the Jazz knew it was a must-win game and came out with the intensity and effort that was needed. Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin praised his team after the game for their sense of urgency:
Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin
“I can’t say enough about this group of guys. This was all about them and them wanting it, and the way they came out…everybody laid everything they had in them out there on the floor tonight and we were able to get a good win.
A dismal second quarter performance by the Warriors made the second half an uphill battle that they weren’t able to overcome. Jazz guard Mo Williams had a game-high 25 points, including the dagger-three in the final seconds of the game.
Williams told SFBay that he didn’t know the Warriors playoff situation or even their record, but knew the Lakers had lost and saw the opportunity:
Jazz guard Mo Williams
“That was added motivation for us. We knew this was going to be a huge game, it was great for us to get the win…it’s all about wins right now.”
Stephen Curry came out of the gate swinging, scoring the Warriors first nine points and finished out the frame with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Things were looking good on all fronts as the Warriors bench showed promising production outscoring the Jazz 9-3.
The second quarter was a different story. Everything that was going good for Golden State faded away midway through the second period. With just under six minutes left in the half Curry had more points (17) than Utah’s two leading scorers, but missed the rest of his shots and didn’t score again until midway into the third.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said that if it weren’t for the second quarter, his team would have won:
Warriors coach Mark Jackson
“The second quarter really hurt us. If you take away that second quarter, where they scored 32 points, and we were careless with the basketball and they had their way–we win the ballgame. That’s the disappointing part about it. Give them credit, they outplayed us.”
The Jazz went on a 17-6 run and finished the half with an eight point lead, powered by Williams and Derrick Favors who had 19 points combined in the second quarter alone.
Even with small surges from the Dubs, the Jazz maintained their lead in the third quarter, leading into a final frame that finally showed the sense of urgency that both teams were feeling.
There were players scrambling for loose balls, full court passes being thrown, and with just under four minutes left to play Klay Thompson and Curry hit back-to-back threes and cut the Jazz lead to five.
A missed three by Curry followed by him throwing a careless no-look over the shoulder pass on a fast break had Warriors’ fans on their feet and screaming for defense with under two minutes to play. Luckily for Golden State, the ball was deflected out by the Jazz. On the ensuing inbound play David Lee scored and cut the Utah lead to three, securing his league-leading 52nd double-double.
With 13.4 seconds left Williams buried his third 3-pointer and left Oracle deflated and silent. Curry made a last-ditch effort but missed consecutive shots from long range and left the floor at the buzzer with his head down.
Curry said he was disappointed not being able to clinch the playoff position in front of a home crowd:
Warriors guard Stephen Curry
“It sucks. I mean, you have a chance to protect your home court again. We’ve been playing good basketball leading up to where we’re trying to go. We understand we had control of the situation and didn’t get it done. We’ve got to figure out what lesson to get out of this and get back to it on Tuesday and keep pushing.”
The Warriors face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday to finish off their last multiple game homestand.
Lee finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds becoming the first Warriors since 2000-01 to post at least 30 20-point, 10 rebound games…Klay Thompson notched is 26th 20-point game of the season with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting…Williams led the Jazz with 25 points on a season-high 11 made field goals on 19 attempts…The Jazz won the season series for the third time in the past four seasons…Utah turned Golden State’s 17 turnovers into 15 points while the Warriors scored only six points on the Jazz’s 13 turnovers…Utah has won seven out of their last eight games and is now 0.5 game ahead of the Lakers for the final playoff spot…The Warriors sold out their 29th consecutive game, 31st this season.