The shorthanded Golden State Warriors were road warriors indeed, as they went into the Utah Jazz’s backyard and stole a win, 124-123. Jonas Jerebko, a former Jazz player, tipped in a game-winner with .3 seconds left to stun the home-team.
Kevin Durant carried the champs with a monster performance: 38 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists on 14-of-25 shooting. Stephen Curry supported him in a gritty effort, overcoming a bloodied nose to deliver 31 points and 8 assists. Missing Andre Iguodala (and of course DeMarcus Cousins), the champs needed those two superstars to deliver game-breaking performances.
Utah pulled out all the stops for their meeting with the back-to-back champions, even firing their longtime mascot actor before the game.
The man inside the iconic Utah Jazz Bear, Jon Absey, was fired earlier this week, according to a Deseret News source. There will be a Jazz Bear during tonight's home opener but it won't be Absey. Story coming soon.— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) October 19, 2018
Jon Absey had been portraying the body-rolling bear since 1994. Maybe it’s for the best Mr. Absey wasn’t forced to watch yet another Steve Kerr team bury the Jazz’s dreams again.
Utah came out hot, and drilled a franchise high 19 three-pointers. They were led by a spirited effort from Joe Ingles, who knocked down 7 treys on his way to 27 points. Rudy Gobert chipped in 16 points and 11 rebounds. I came away very impressed with Utah’s effort, and they came away with a loss to the champs.
WHAT A FOUL FEST! The Jazz shot 17 free throws in the first frame, making 15! The champs were whistled for 11 fouls, including one at the buzzer when Durant bizarrely swatted the arms of Alec Burke on a desperate three-point heave. Curry was saddled with two offensive fouls quick and had to sit on the bench.
One bright spot was the play of young center project Damian Jones. I now understand why the Warriors incubated this youngster for a couple years before unleashing him upon the NBA as a 7-foot Frankenstein. His physicality had an strong impact on the Jazz. His first quarter highlight reel included repeatedly stonewalling Gobert in the paint, and setting monster screens that rattled defenders.
Damian Jones swats Spida pic.twitter.com/RiCxkHVAVY— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 20, 2018
But of course, he was also saddled with foul trouble, picking up three early.
Jazz 34, Warriors 32
The game-speed shifted from the herky-jerk, foul-filled first period to the blazing tempo in the second stanza. It appeared to favored the Jazz in front of their boisterous home court.
The Jazz turned the tempo up and started firing away from downtown, making 10 of 16 threes in the second quarter. It was a funny feeling watching the Warriors fall to victim to a three-point deluge; so often the champs are the ones dishing them, not receiving. It could be partially attributed to a leaky effort by the defense on the perimeter, and also the Jazz just going bonkers.
The Warriors shot 60% from the half and it felt like they were barely keeping up against the Jazz’s startling firepower.
This pair of tweets literally made me laugh out loud.
Jazz just scored 47 second quarter points on the Warriors.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 20, 2018
The Jazz point totals the last 10 quarters in Utah vs the Warriors defense: 35, 34, 34, 26, 33, 29, 31, 26, 34, 47.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 20, 2018
Durant, a one man-wrecking crew, had 24 points on 13 shot attempts at the half. The Jazz shot 55% at the half, making 11-of-24 bombs from distance. The 47 points Utah scored in the second period tied for the most the Warriors had ever given up in a second quarter...EVER.
Those 10 treys were the most in a quarter in Utah Jazz history.
Jazz 81, Warriors 69
Green twisted his ankle badly stepping on a Jazz player’s foot. He immediately came off of the floor, and ended up heading back to the locker room. Curry took umbrage to the Jazz’s physical tactics, and play stopped as blood streamed from his nose from an uncalled foul on a layup.
With the Utah crowd in a throaty frenzy, the champs had enough of the nonsense, unleashing a vintage defensive quarter, outscoring the Jazz 28-22, and putting the fear back into the fans.
The bench was loving this Steph 3 pic.twitter.com/oZKxpQfOKK— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 20, 2018
Curry ripped off 16 points in the quarter and the Dubs pulled within three points. Until Ingles nailed a running, 30-foot bankshot as time expired in the period. Wow.
DO YOU REALLY WANT A SHOOT-OUT WITH THE CHAMPS, UTAH?! DO YA?!
Jazz 103, Warriors 97
Green returned to the game and looked alright, leading the Warriors defense into the fray. The champs took the lead, but the Jazz wouldn’t go quietly into the night.
Trailing 123-122 in the final minute, the Warriors had two chances to take the lead. On the first, Curry ran backdoor on an inbounds play and barely missed a layup as Gobert bothered the shot.
The Jazz misfired on their next attempt, and the Warriors called timeout with 6 seconds left.
And that’s when the man that many people in Dub Nation were already giving up on, stood up and took a stand for the Golden Dynasty. Ladies and gentlemen, JONAS JEREBKO SCORED THE GAME WINNER!
The former Utah Jazz player stuck a dagger in his former team’s heart, ruining their historic night, and injecting a hush into the crowd.
The Jazz finished 19-for-46 from downtown for the game. They scored 47 points in the 3rd quarter, but were held to 42 total in the second half.
The Warriors shot 56% from the field, nailing 10-of-19 of their triples. Jerebko had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor (2-of-3 from downtown) and 6 rebounds.
Everybody who was in the comments on GSoM trashing Jerebko needs to offer the “Swedish Larry Bird” an apology, baby! #ONEOFUS #STRENGTHINNUMBERS #SORRYUTAH