Last week, Dieter Kurtenbach of the Bay Area News Group wrote about the Golden State Warriors enduring the “dog days” of the NBA season, which seems to be the logical consequence of a team that has been to three straight NBA Finals.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s quote in the article probably put it in the most resonant terms possible for those of us who have not played in the NBA.
“Well, if you go to work for four years and you never get a vacation, you’d be a little fried — it’s the same concept, it’s just happening on a basketball court,” Kerr said Monday after a longer-than-usual practice.
Forget turnovers, opposing dribble-drive point guards, or injuries — The Warriors’ biggest problem is that that they have been too good over the last four seasons.
Don’t expect anyone to cry for them.
I heard a similar soundbyte during Tim Roye’s pre-game show on the way to the GSoM Night game last Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but they handled that game. They also handled the Boston Celtics in an epic point guard duel on Saturday.
But tonight, the Warriors looked about as indifferent to the outcome of a game that we’ve seen at full season.
It makes sense when you’re playing the 51st game of an 82-game season and looking forward to another run to the Finals; it’s just that it was particularly ugly.
Team had zero intention of playing tonight.— JC (@jahseh) January 31, 2018
Jazz got All-Star nights from non-All-Stars
Ricky Rubio led the Jazz with a team-highs of 11 assists and 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting — contrary to Bob Fitzgerald’s claims, it was not a career-high but the Warriors’ defense made him look dominant. Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell added 20 apiece while Derrick Favors added a double-double of his own with 18 points and 10 rebounds. All together, the Jazz shot 58.2% from the field and that’s pretty much all you need to know.
In short, the Jazz looked more like the team with four All-Stars tonight.
As with most blow-outs by teams that aren’t historically good, this was really more of a slow build, but this thing was pretty much over within the first few minutes of the third quarter: down 69-56 at halftime, the Warriors just never got that big third quarter spurt that we’ve been accustomed to and their defense allowed the Jazz to keep cruising.
Thompson’s game-high 27 not nearly enough
Klay Thompson kept the Warriors afloat in the first half with 18 of his game-high 27 points and the team grabbed nine offensive rebounds (a healthy 34.6% offensive rebounding percentage) to gain a 9-5 advantage in second chance points.
Unfortunately, Thompson was the only one who seemed to have any energy tonight and the first half defense was atrocious, to say the very least.
Utah shot 60.8% in the first half, primarily because the Warriors just couldn’t seem to stop anything in the paint. Ricky Rubio, who has never been confused for a dynamic scorer, had his way with Golden State’s perimeter defenders, scoring 12 points that included four free throw attempts. And really the free throw attempts plus his shot chart tells the defensive story of the half for the Warriors:
Put simply, the Jazz got whatever they wanted in the paint, shooting 70% at the rim. That tepid interior defense combined with the porous perimeter defense that allowed relatively unfettered drives and 5-for-7 3-point shooting from Joe Ingles, who scored 17 in the first half, pretty much doomed the Warriors in the first half. A number of his jumpers were essentially uncontested.
As a sampling of what that looked like, here’s Rubio standing still to throw a flat-footed alley-oop to Rudy Gobert, who just jogged through the lane unaccounted for and waited to receive the ball.
It’s still sort of baffling to watch pump fakes from Rubio outside the key get Warriors players lunging for fouls or easy plays in the first half.
But that sort of sums up the mood after this night: it’s just hard to explain this kind of effort other than speculating that the team was...well...bored?
Or maybe it was those way-too-bright Jazz uniforms? Who knows.
Two day rest, on to the next.
If you’re so inclined ... who was the Warrior Wonder in the blowout loss to the Jazz?
This poll is closed
THOSE JAZZ JERSEYS!
JOE INGLES, BABY!