The Warriors headed into Utah on Thursday night to take on the junior-varsity version of the Jazz (without 4 out of 5 starters). They walked out with a victory after almost blowing a 25-point lead in the second half, looking exhausted after the tough back-to-back. Every Warrior who entered the game scored multiple baskets, including 5 players in double-figures. The Jazz were lead by Rudy Gobert (20 points, 17 rebounds) and the Aussie Bomber Joe Ingles (21 points, 5-9 from three).
Utah was without most of its firepower: Gordon Hayward was out with a finger injury, Rodney Hood was out with a hamstring injury, George Hill has a sore toe and Warrior-killer Derrick Favors has a bum knee.
Golden State was working on a back-to-back after trouncing the Clippers in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. This Utah team has been formidable all season long, coming into the game with the 7th best record in the West and as a consensus pick for playoff contender. Quin Snyder has his boys playing well, but the Jazz ran into the hottest (and best) team in the league in the Warriors.
The Warriors came out hot to a 35-17 (50% shooting) first quarter behind 14 for Curry and a suffocating defense by the road squad.
The Jazz would find some energy in the 2nd, but the Warriors would match them basket-for-basket. Kerr utilized his deep bench, getting contributions from role players like Patrick McCaw (10 points in the first half) and David West (4 points, great defense). Utah was led by the ageless Joe Johnson in the first (10 points on 3-7 shooting).
The 2nd half got ugly — the Warriors got cold, and the Jazz found ways to inch back in it. They reduced the large lead down to seven and halftime was not kind to the road squad. Additionally, Draymond Green went down and headed to the locker room with a twisted ankle (he would later return). But just when the game looked like it would flip, Kevin Durant decided he had had enough and went to town.
Third Kevin Durant dunk of the fourth quarter sends Trey Lyles flying into the cameras https://t.co/zmt1w6vMPT— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 9, 2016
He started at the free throw line and ended with some spectacular dunks to kill Utah’s momentum. Gobert did his best to keep the game close all by himself down the stretch, but Golden State found their way to the victory 106-99.
The Dubs get the day off (which they need) before they head to Memphis on Saturday for the first of another back-to-back. Ice those knees, boys!