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Analysis: Warriors quiet the Jazz in fourth quarter, win 115-108

In this potential playoff preview, the Warriors outscored their opponents 34-24 in final frame to earn their 16th win in their last 17 games.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday night, the Warriors played their penultimate game before the All-Star break as they welcomed the Utah Jazz into Oracle Arena. The Jazz are a team that has given the Warriors trouble this season, as they needed a last-second Jonas Jerebko tip-in to win one game and lost the other time the two teams met. The game was a back-and-forth affair, neither team able to seize control for very long, giving the game a certain playoff-like atmosphere. But the Warriors outscored the Jazz by ten points in the fourth quarter to pick up the 115-108 victory.

All-Stars shine in the fourth

At the end of the third quarter, the Warriors trailed the Jazz by three points. Though they’d held an eleven-point lead in the first half, the Warriors couldn’t overcome more early-game shooting woes to stay in front of the Jazz. But in the fourth quarter, the Warriors came alive and pulled away from the Jazz on their way to a victory.

In that fourth quarter, it was the Warriors’ three All-Stars leading the way. Klay Thompson, playing with a sprained left ring finger, scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth while going 2/2 from three-point range.

Thompson’s defense throughout the game was outstanding as well, as he did the best job dealing with the Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell scored 25 points on Tuesday night, but those points were considerably more difficult to earn when he was being guarded by Thompson.

Thompson’s fellow All-Star and Splash Brother Stephen Curry also saved his best basketball for the fourth quarter.

It was another game in which Curry struggled early, scoring 16 points and shooting 5/14 from the field, going 3/11 from long distance. But when the game was on the line, Curry came through with the big plays. Curry scored 8 of his 24 points in the fourth, going 23 from three-point range in the fourth. One of those three-point makes came on this shot, one that had Curry celebrating as he put the Warriors up by 8 points.

Curry scored all 8 of his fourth-quarter points during a 17-2 run that saw the Warriors turn a five-point deficit into a ten-point lead.

While Curry struggled for the first three quarters before turning it on in the fourth, Kevin Durant was consistent once again on Tuesday night. Durant scored 28 points against the Jazz while also handing out 7 assists. It was Durant’s 23rd game this season with 7+ assists (he had just 20 of those games during the entire 2017-18 regular season).

Durant did have another sub-par game from three-point range, going 1/6 from long distance on Tuesday night. But just like he did against the Heat, Durant saved that one three-point make for an opportune moment. With Joe Ingles guarding him, Durant buried this strike from beyond the arc with just over a minute left to go in the game that effectively ended things.

One would like to see the Warriors play a more consistent game and not need these kinds of late-game surges to pick up wins. But that said, it is a good sign that the Warriors can close out games like this and that their best players know how to be at their best when the game is on the line.

Dubs defense drowns out the Jazz

But it wasn’t just the offense that picked up in the fourth quarter. The Warriors defense, specifically the play of their two big men in DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green, was excellent as they had to contend with the challenging Jazz frontcourt of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors.

Cousins showed some of his rust, whether by missing shots (Cousins went 4/17 from the field against the Jazz) or not being able to slow down Gobert early in the game. But Cousins’ play in the fourth quarter was much closer to what we’ve seen from the veteran big man throughout his NBA career.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors
DeMarcus Cousins was asked to do a lot defensively on Tuesday night, but he saved his best for the fourth quarter.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

More important than the 5 points he scored in that final frame, Cousins grabbed 4 of his 10 rebounds in the fourth all while dealing with the size and physicality that the Jazz can throw at you. Cousins was a +11 in that final quarter, one where the Warriors outscored the Jazz by 10 points. Cousins also helped to hold Gobert scoreless in the fourth as the Jazz’s big man posted a +/- of -10 in the fourth quarter.

But it wasn’t Cousins who provided the Warriors with their defensive intensity in the fourth quarter. Green, obviously relishing getting to play against the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Gobert, showed why he’s one of the best defensive players in the league.

In that fourth quarter, Green’s energy on defense was turned all the way up as he tried to single-handedly snuff out the limited sparks of the Jazz’s offensive game.

After the game, Curry talked about Green’s defense and the role it plays in this team’s success.

Iguodala steadies the ship once again

You knew this truly was a game with a playoff vibe to it because Andre Iguodala played an important role. Against the Jazz, Iguodala scored 13 points, his third game scoring in double figures in his last four.

In addition to those 13 points, Iguodala also had 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in just under 30 minutes of action. Facing off against a tough Jazz team that played with a postseason-like intensity, having Iguodala on the floor to keep the Warriors steady and focused gave them an enormous advantage.

11 of Iguodala’s 13 points game during the first three quarters of the game, when the Warriors struggled against that tough Jazz defense. Iguodala went 3/3 from three-point range in the game’s first three quarters, while the rest of the Warriors went 5/28 during that stretch.

It was very much a turn-back-the-clock effort from Iguodala, who joked about his age and experience in the postgame interview with NBCSN Bay Area’s Kerith Burke

Fear the (real) Beard

I had to give a special shout-out to the Warriors for their choice of promotional giveaway on Tuesday night. The Warriors gave away a bobblehead celebrating Baron Davis’ vicious dunk on Andrei Kirilenko in Game 4 of the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals.

I do enjoy that the Warriors decided to give this one away before a game when the Warriors were playing the Jazz. Also, I enjoy any excuse to relive one of the most memorable moments in Warriors history.

The Warriors play their final game before the All-Star break tonight, as they travel up to the Pacific Northwest to face off against the Portland Trail Blazers.

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