Warriors drive past Jazz on road to history
The Jazz may have the best record in the NBA since the All-Star break, but Warriors showed them they still have a long way to go.
Golden State extended their home winning streak to 12 Saturday night, beating the Utah Jazz 106-91 to get within three wins of tying the single-season franchise record of 59.
Following a slow start, Stephen Curry led the way with 24 points and three steals, shooting just under 50 percent from the floor and knocking in three triples.
Leandro Barbosa had one of his best games of the season off the bench for Golden State, scoring a season-high 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting, and grabbing three steals of his own in only 27 minutes. The 32-year-old showed he hasn’t lost much athleticism, beating young Utah defenders to the rim with a quick first step on more than one occasion.
The Brazilian said after the game that he’s “a little bit tired” after playing extended minutes with Klay Thompson out of the lineup. You wouldn’t know it watching him, as Barbosa has scored in double figures in five of the last six games.
Center Andrew Bogut praised the fellow veteran’s focus in a season where he hasn’t always been part of the rotation:
“He’s been great the last four or five games. He plays with a lot of energy. He’s very aggressive offensively. He’s a smart player, gets in the paint a lot, and he’s been invaluable. He’s been a guy that’s got numerous DNPs, but stayed positive and he’s a great teammate.”
Barbosa’s performance helped cover up the 21 points per game missing with Klay Thompson still sidelined with a sprained right ankle. Other Warriors have had to increase their scoring output with Thompson out of the lineup, as Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala have done in the previous two games.
Curry talked about the importance of other players being ready to contribute:
“These guys are just ready. I think mentally, we’ve been focused all year. That aspect of our team, that’s why our record is what it is and we’re going to try and keep that going and be able to hold down the fort while Klay is out.”
Derrick Favors lead the Jazz in scoring with 21 points and had a double-double grabbing 11 boards. Trey Burke knocked in five three pointers and scored 19 off the bench for Utah. Rookie Rodney Hood also had 19.
Curry being Curry
After a 4-for-17 shooting night against New Orleans on Friday, Curry continued to struggle in the first quarter Saturday, starting 1-for-6 from the field.
Steve Kerr sat his star for most of the second quarter, but Curry came to life late in the period after finishing a seemingly impossible falling layup following a tripping foul by Dante Exum. Curry converted the three-point play and finished the final 3:26 of the half with an 11-point flurry that included two three pointers.
Does Curry think the shot broke his slump? Not so much:
“That’s got nothing to do with it … I was just trying to get it up on the rim once I got tripped and get two free throws. I look up and go, ‘Oh, that’s on line,’ and it went in, so that was fun.”
Utah had cut the Warriors lead to one before Curry’s incredible layup, only to end the half down nine at 49-40.
Rip and run
With two talented bigs in Rudy Gobert and Derek Favors, the Jazz typically prefer to play one of the slowest paces in the NBA, with both them and their opponents averaging less than 95 points per game. Golden State completely took the Jazz out of their desired half-court game, racking up 25 fast break points to a paltry six for Utah.
The Warriors took Gobert out of the game defensively and offensively, with the seven-footer finishing the game without a single block or field goal, going 0-for-5 from the floor.
The 7-foot-1 Gobert earned a double-double the last time the teams met earlier in the year, helping the Jazz to an improbable 110-100 victory.
Bogut didn’t have any interest in the second-year center repeating that performance:
“I wanted to make sure I came in and didn’t give him any easy baskets and just try to be physical and make sure he gets nothing cheap under the basket. It worked out tonight.”
Bogut’s defense had a lot to do with stifling Gobert. In addition to protecting the rim, the big Australian had a nice all around scoring eight points, grabbing eight boards and dishing five assists.
The Warriors now have a chance to go undefeated on their six game homestand should they take care of the Washington Wizards Monday night. The Wizards have won five of their last six, and currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference.