After a victory Saturday night over the Boston Celtics in a game featuring NBA Finals-level intensity, the Warriors were perhaps primed for a letdown and a poor performance when they traveled to face the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.
A poor performance was exactly what the Warriors delivered.
The team struggled on offense, was non-existent on defense, and played one of its worst games of the season in a 129-99 loss to the Jazz: a team that would not be in the playoffs, were they to start today.
An Australian on offense and a Frenchman on defense lead the way for the Jazz
Tuesday night belonged to the Jazz’s Joe Ingles. Against a porous Warriors’ defense, Ingles scored 20 points, including 6 made three-pointers (which was a season high for him).
In fact, Ingles out-shot the entire Warriors’ team from three-point range.
Final tally -- Joe Ingles is the winner!!— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 31, 2018
Ingles: 6-of-8 from 3 tonight
The Warriors: 5-of-25 from 3 tonight
Ingles was able to make all these three-pointers because his primary defender, Kevin Durant, struggled mightily, allowing his opponent to get quite a few wide-open looks. While Durant’s defense has looked good at times this season, against the Jazz he played one of his worst defensive games, leaving his man open and not providing the rim-protecting presence he’s displayed at other times this season.
As a whole, the Warriors’ defense was substandard. In addition to Ingles, the Jazz also received major offensive contributions from Ricky Rubio (who scored 23 points while also handing out 11 assists) and Donovan Mitchell (who scored 20 points).
The Jazz shot 58% from the field, well above Utah’s average of 45%. The home team also shot 50% from three-point range against the Warriors, considerably better than the 36% they usually shoot from long distance.
Some of this was because the Jazz had a particularly good night shooting the ball. But a very lackluster and uninspired defensive effort by the Warriors was also to blame. Golden State allowed the Jazz to take easier shots and, thus, make more of them.
While the Ingles-Rubio-Mitchell trifecta provided the Jazz’s offense, it was the Rudy Gobert who set the tone on defense. Gobert gave the Jazz a strong interior defensive presence, one that was lacking when the Warriors defeated the Gobert-less Jazz in late December. This time around, he caused the Warriors to miss layups and other shots that should be automatic, which showed in the disparity in points scored in the paint: 58 for the Jazz (compared to the Warriors’ 46).
Thompson was the lone bright spot for the Warriors
In a game they lost by 30 points, there weren’t many bright spots for the Warriors. One of the very, very few, however, was Klay Thompson. Despite struggling a bit in the past few games, Thompson scored a game-high 27 points against the Jazz.
Thompson went three-for-five from three-point range against the Jazz and was the only Warriors player to make more than one shot from long distance.
As a team, the Warriors shot a dismal 20% against the Jazz, which prevented them from mounting any kind of run to get back into the game when the Jazz opened up big leads.
The only other Warriors player to have an exceptional night was JaVale McGee. Seeing extended minutes to match up against the Jazz’s big man Gobert, McGee scored a season-high 14 points.
It was nice to see McGee (who has fallen out of favor with the ascendancy of Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney) get some extended minutes and a chance to play with the starters. But it was a nice performance that was for naught.
Outside of Thompson and McGee, no one else stepped up for the Warriors. What’s worse, the team’s three other All-Stars (Durant, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green) all had subpar performances.
Durant scored just 17 points in a remarkably inefficient effort against the Jazz. He also missed all five of his three-point attempts. It was the second shaky performance in a row from Durant, who struggled against the Celtics as well.
As was previously noted, Durant had a bad game on the defensive end, something for which he took responsibility in a postgame interview.
Kevin Durant puts blame on himself for his defense on Joe Ingles pic.twitter.com/dKpjhDZO90— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 31, 2018
After that amazing game against Boston on Saturday night, Curry was likely due for a bit of a letdown. That was certainly what we saw from Curry in Tuesday night’s contest. He finished with a season-low 14 points and shot one-for-seven from three-point range.
While Green was one of the few Warriors players who displayed some intensity and energy against the Jazz, he was not careful with the basketball. He was responsible for four of the Warriors’ 19 turnovers, with quite a few of them being particularly careless.
It was an uninspired effort by the Warriors. The team lacked effort and focus, and played as though all they had to do for a victory was show up. It was enough to make head coach Steve Kerr very angry, which definitely showed during a play stoppage in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors’ bench underwhelms once again
A problem that once again reared its ugly head for the Warriors was the lack of bench scoring, specifically from three-point range. Anthony Slater noted this on Twitter towards the end of Tuesday night’s game against the Jazz.
Warriors entered the day with only 104 threes from their bench this season, dead last in the NBA. They have zero tonight.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 31, 2018
The Warriors’ backup wings have all struggled this season and Tuesday night against the Jazz was no exception. Andre Iguodala, who posted one of his best performances of the season last Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, struggled mightily against the Jazz, missing both of his shot attempts, including a particularly ugly air ball.
But it wasn’t just Iguodala who struggled off the bench for the Warriors. Nick Young continued his shaky play of late, not making shots and remaining a liability on defense, while Patrick McCaw’s sophomore slump appears to still be in effect.
While I’m still more-than-willing to say Iguodala’s performance was just the result of a veteran not pressing during a game in the middle of the regular season, the continued struggles of Young and McCaw are officially worthy of concern.
The Warriors might need to start looking — either via trade or, later on, in the buyout market — for someone who can provide consistent wing play off the bench. They don’t need another All-Star or anything, just someone who is always making positive contributions when they’re on the court.
Right now, with Young and McCaw, the team is definitely not getting that.
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!