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Shorthanded Warriors drummed by Jazz

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Extended garbage time, young players getting gobs of minutes, being blown out by 19 — Sunday’s game against the Utah Jazz brought back Warriors memories of old.

Before the Warriors (54-19) were perennial title favorites they were the doormats of the league with no star power to speak of, and that’s exactly what their 91-110 loss felt like. A team led by Quinn Cook and JaVale McGee were no match for the Jazz (42-32) fighting for their playoff lives.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

Draymond Green was supposed to return to the court Sunday giving the Warriors some semblance of stability with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant out.

But before the game, Green came down with flu-like symptoms forcing the Warriors to start a game with four All-Stars relegated to watching. And it turned out exactly how one would think, playing a team with their playoff hopes on the line every night.

Head coach Steve Kerr said he’s not worried about wins and losses these last few games, it’s all about rhythm:

“Mainly I want guys to keep rhythm, Andre, Shaun, David, I’m looking for them to get into a little rhythm without having to play them too many minutes. And then the young guys, just evaluating the young guys progress.”

The Warriors had absolutely no answer for a third-quarter run from the Jazz. And in a span of mere minutes, the game was blown open and Utah never looked back.

Donovan Mitchell led the visitors with a game-high 21 points and Rudy Gobert finished with 17 points, 15 boards and four blocked shots.

For the undermanned Warriors it was a tough game to suffer through although it did have some positives. Andre Iguodala finished with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from behind the arc and was one of just two Warriors players to reach double figures.

It’s just the fifth time all season he has hit multiple 3’s in a game — the four are his season-high. Over the last five games he has shot 50 percent from deep and is getting hot at exactly the right time, just like always.

Kerr was never worried about his supersub, even with his early season struggles:

“Andre looks great. The last month his body, his athleticism, his bounce, it’s all coming together and I think that’s a great sign for us. You always know you can count on him to know what’s happening on the floor, to make the right plays, but when he’s looking this spry and athletic, we’re really tough to beat.”

Cook continued his impressive run, going for eight in the first half. But that just means he also got hurt, because such has been the story for Golden State of late.

He did come back to start the second half but just the fact that there was another injury scare shows exactly how these last few weeks have gone for the defending champs. He would finish with a team-high 17 and is one of the lone bright spots every contest.

Cook said he’s finally starting to play like himself:

“At first I was just trying to get everyone the ball and not step on anybody’s toes. But I think they need me to be aggressive, especially now, but even when the guys are here if I’m in the game, they brought me here for a reason… When I pass up shots guys get on me, so that does a lot for my confidence.”

McGee was inserted back into the starting lineup and immediately made up for all his lost time after coming off the bench the last five games, with 10 shots in his first 12 minutes. Patrick McCaw also got his share of shots up, shooting 3-of-10 but just the fact that he was aggressive at all is a positive.

It’s the small things you look for in a loss like this — just like in the old days.

Up next

The Warriors get a day to lick their wounds before taking the court again when the Indiana Pacers come to town Tuesday. Myles Turner and the Pacers (42-31) currently sit in fifth place in the East and have clinched a playoff berth.

Notes

Damian Jones scored his first bucket as a member of the Warriors this season in the fourth quarter. He finished with six points and four rebounds in 12 minutes. Jones averaged 15 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks for the Santa Cruz Warriors.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.

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