Style points are nice. We like big, easy wins. They are easy on deadlines, fun for the fans, and good for the bench to get some playing time. Right now, it seems those are only coming when the Warriors play against top-four teams in the Western Conference.
Tonight’s game was a time where you could brush aside the style points. I think we all saw a game like this coming. Fresh off a back-to-back, fresh off an emotional wins it’s a game that is a prime candidate for a letdown. And for about 3 1/2 quarters, that’s what it looked like.
The first 10 minutes of the game were good, when the Warriors established a 23-14 lead. But the Jazz got back in it with a 12-0 run and really controlled the play all the way until midway through the fourth quarter. With David Lee out with issues with his shoulder and his hip, the Warriors needed to find extra scoring. They didn’t.
Andrew Bogut was the one guy who did deliver, pouring in 16 points, grabbing 17 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals. But outside of him, it was all Stephen Curry and nobody else. Curry had a season-high 44 points. He made 14 of 26 from the field and 8 of 13 from 3-point range. He and Bogut combined to go 22 of 39 — that’s 56.4 percent. The rest of the team: a putride 11 of 49 for 22.4 percent.
Klay Thompson had an awful night offensively. He scored 11 points — the only other player besides Curry and Bogut in double figures — but that came on 3 of 20 shooting. He managed to make just 1 of 14 shots from INSIDE the 3-point arc.
So how did Golden State win? It only turned the ball over nine times and turned it up defensively in the second half. The Warriors allowed just 19 points in the fourth quarter and showed why coach Mark Jackson preaches playing defensive basketball. They won a game despite making only 37.5 percent of their shots, even with their opponent hitting nearly 48.
Under different circumstances, you could lament this win for not being more convincing against a bad opponent. Do the Warriors get a complete pass for winning ugly? No. You’d like to see them dominate teams more, even on a back-to-back. But as Andrew Bogut said, “A win in this league is like gold. You’ve got to cherish it no matter who it’s against.” Or how it comes.