But during the break between the third and fourth quarters, Golden State’s lead down to 13, Mark Jackson didn’t look too worried, or upset, or the least bit irritated.
He then walked over to his huddled team and started talking, his expression not even changing.
Maybe he knew it was just a matter of time before the Warriors’ defense asserted its will. If so, he was right.
Golden State put the clamps down on Utah, leading to a 98-87 win. The Warriors held Utah to 39.5 percent shooting. If not for a garbage-time meltdown by the end of the bench, they would’ve held the Jazz under 80.
They dominated the boards (57-40) and capitalized off nearly every Utah miscue, scoring 19 points off 11 Jazz turnovers. That’s how you win going away despite shooting 40.5 percent – with defense.
“I like what we’re doing. We’re building and we’re starting to get our identity defensively,” center Andrew Bogut said. “We’re only as good as we are defensively. Whenever we (defend) on a consistent basis, we’re tough to stop.”
More on Monday’s win
Andrew Bogut. He was just 4 of 12 shooting, but he was a big reason Golden State was able to overcome early shooting woes. The Jazz, when they have it going well, hurt you inside. But for the second consecutive game, Utah’s interior game was shut down. Bogut was the anchor of that. He had 13 rebounds (10 defensive), 4 blocks and a steal in just shy of 33 minutes. Enes Kanter was just 4 of 12 from the field for 8 points and didn’t play much in the second half as the Jazz opted to go small.
“He was great,” Jackson said. “He’s been great all year long. He’s the anchor of our defense. He’s the voice. He rebounded the ball well. … We we’re awfully good and it starts with him defensively.”
Marreese Speights. He served as the back-up center with Jermaine O’Neal out. But he didn’t give the Warriors anything. He was 0-for-4. Three of his misses came on outside (two ill-advised). He managed two rebounds in nearly 12 minutes and could’ve had at least two more if he’d hustle to track down a nearby carom. Speights seemed frustrated on the court, perhaps because of his struggles shooting or lack of minutes.
Utah was 32 of 81 from the field (39.5 percent). The Jazz made half its 34 attempts in the paint and 7 of 15 from 3-point range. The real problem was their in-between game.
Utah was 8 for 32 outside the paint and inside the arc (25 percent). With no real point guard, the Jazz have a tough time penetrating. That led to a lot of pull-ups and settling for the first open look on the perimeter. Gordon Hayward, after getting inside early and scoring 12 first-quarter points, was rendered a non-factor the rest of the game by Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson.
KEY MOMENT 1
The Warriors’ lead was two early in the second quarter. But the offense began to clicking after Curry knocked a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions. He then came up with a steal and set up Thompson for a 3-pointer, putting Golden State ahead 35-27.
The lead was up to nine after a Draymond Green 3-pointer at the 7:02 mark. Golden State’s defense followed that with four straight stops, getting another Thompson 3-pointer and a Bogut layup to make the score 45-31.
Utah’s final 11 possessions of the second quarter produced two baskets and a free throw. Curry and Lee combined for 12 points over the final 4:21, sending Golden State into the half with a 59-36 lead.
“I thought they were the more aggressive team,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “I thought they played with a lot more energy than we did. They made shots. … It was a close game and they made three in a row and we panicked a little bit on it. This is a team that’s capable of scoring a lot of points in a short amount of time and 3-pointers are a little bit more impactful.”
The Warriors, for a stretch, went back to the ISO/Post offense. Seeking to take advantage of mismatches, they slowed the tempo and attacked via one-on-one action. Lee and and Thompson were unsuccessful. But Barnes immediately produced results, scoring on back-to-back pull-up jumpers over his defender.
Barnes finished with a season-high 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting in 29 minutes off the bench. He remains the Warriors’ best post option because he goes to the basket so strong (and his midrange is kind of money). Barnes knows what shot he wants to get to and has the size, strength and athleticism to get to it against smaller defenders. He tends to settle for the jumper too much. But if the post-up mismatch is going to be a regular feature of Golden State’s offense, they might as well milk Barnes. That could come in handy later in the season as he develops a comfort and an arsenal.
Yes, Mark Jackson benched his bench.
Though just 1:12 remained in the game, Jackson yanked all five players on the court. Speights. Nemanja Nedovic. Kent Bazemore. Ogjnen Kuzmic. Dewayne Dedmon. Jackson had seen enough after they let Utah trim the 23-point lead to 11. They went scoreless on six straight possessions (five jumpers and a turnover) while giving up a 12-0 run. They made former Warriors’ summer league star Ian Clark looking like Curry. He scored eight points in 1:05.
Jackson first asked the starters (with Barnes replacing Curry) if they were loose enough to go back in. Once they answered in the affirmative, there was a mass substitution.
“I’m not into embarrassing my guys,” Jackson said. “But if you continue to put forth embarrassing effort, you leave me no choice.”
This isn’t the first time Jackson’s been unhappy with how the end up the bench responded in garbage time. Jackson has slimmed his rotation noticeably as the season’s carried on. He basically has been running with seven guys. Eight when O’Neal is healthy (though before O’Neal went down, Green wasn’t playing much).
KEY MOMENT 2
A Thompson 3-pointer at the 9:35 mark of the third quarter put Golden State up 68-40. The Warriors’ next basket, a fade-away 16-footer by Harrison Barnes, came at the 2:55 mark.
Over their next 10 possessions after Thompson’s 3, the Warriors went 0-for-6 from the field with four turnovers.
By the time Lee headed to the free throw line at the 4:51 mark, the Warriors’ lead was down to 68-54. Eight points during Utah’s 14-0 run came on layups.
After Lee’s free throws, Williams drilled a 3-pointer to pull the Jazz to within 13.
The Warriors scored four points, all free throws during the 6:40 stretch without a basket.
With just under nine minutes left in the game, Curry drove the lane and was cut off at the right elbow of the free throw line. As he spun back to pass it back out, he was knocked to the hardwood by Mike Harris. While down, Jazz forward Marvin Williams fell on top of Curry’s head, smashing the left side of his face into the hardwood. Hard to tell via replay what made Williams fall. There was no contact. Perhaps he left his feet to avoid Curry falling into his ankles. It turned out to be a dive of sorts and Curry got the crushed.
Bogut and Green immediately signaled to the trainers that Curry had hit his head. The Warriors’ star laid face-down on the court for a few minutes, his teammates and coach Jackson standing over him.
Eventually, Curry rolled onto his back, replays showed him grimacing in pain. He then sat up. Finally, he was helped to his feet. He walked off under his own power, with Jackson and head athletic trainer Johan Wang flanking him. Curry headed straight to the locker room. He left the game with the Warriors up 87-67 and 8:50 left in the game.
“I haven’t had any concussion episodes before,” Curry said. “So when I first hit, it rung my bell pretty hard. I made sure I took my time and didn’t do anything to put myself in jeopardy for next game, especially with the lead we had. I haven’t seen it on tape or anything but the way it felt, it was definitely pretty serious.”
Curry said he never lost consciousness. No word from the Warriors’ yet on whether Curry took/passed any concussion protocols (I asked). The conclusion after the game was that Curry merely had a “pretty nasty headache.”
It doesn’t sound like playing Wednesday’s home game against Memphis will be an issue. That’s a relief to the Warriors based on how long he was down.
“Just trying to get my bearings straight,” Curry said. “You go from feeling really good running around the court to getting smacked in the head by the ground. Shocks you a little bit. I just wanted to make sure I took my time. With all the stuff that’s going on with concussions, and its my first time really dealing with it, make sure I’m alright.”
WHAT HE SAID
“I love my defense. That’s why I signed an extension.” — Andrew Bogut, when asked about his defense.
AT LEAST WE LEARNED
Harrison Barnes’ defense looked pretty good against Gordon Hayward. Utah’s best player managed just six points and two assists in the second half, with two turnovers.
Barnes is looking pretty solid on defense. Against Oklahoma City, he spent stretches on Russell Westbrook. It’s no coincidence he’s engaged on defense and he’s getting shots on offense. All the more reason to make sure he gets some touches.
KEY MOMENT 3
The Warriors’ lead was at 13 to start the fourth quarter, a few Utah baskets from morphing into a close game. But Curry made sure that didn’t happen.
He opened with a long jumper. Then after Williams missed a runner, Curry used the high pick-and-roll to get in the key and set up and Draymond Green layup.
The next time down, Richard Jefferson missed a 22-footer, sending Curry the other way. He came off a high screen and drilled his fourth 3-pointer of the game.
in a minute, 42 seconds the Warriors had pushed the lead to 85-65, nipping Utah’s come-back bid in the bud.
After missing his first four shots of the game, Curry finished with 22 points on 7 of 15 shooting to go with 8 assists, six rebounds, 3 steals and 5 turnovers. He was 4 of 7 from 3 after missing all five of his 3-pointers last game.
“I was a little frustrated in the first quarter,” he said. “I hadn’t shot it well in a couple games. David was doing a great job of staying in my ear and giving me confidence.”
BEFORE YOU GO
There was a common denominator in the two major runs the Warriors went on: they both started when Draymond Green came into the game. The
lead was a point when Green checked in late in the first quarter. The Warriors promptly outscored the Jazz 23-12 over the next seven minutes Green was on the floor.
Green checked back in late in the third quarter, at the 2:34 mark of the third quarter, with Golden State’s 28-point lead down to 13. When Green checked out at the 6:02 mark of the fourth quarter, the Warriors had outscored the Jazz 18-10.
Green finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds, a block and an assist in 16 minutes. He was +20 for the game.