After a tough loss on Wednesday night to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Jazz were looking for redemption with a win against a top Western Conference opponent. The Warriors are one of only two teams in the league with fewer than ten losses, the other being the Hawks. The Warriors boast the league’s top defense, as well as a top class offense. Golden State was coming off an overtime loss to Chicago on Tuesday, and trying to avoid losing back-to-back games for the third time this season. The Jazz righted the ship and beat the team with the best record in the NBA.
The Jazz started off strong, controlling the pace through much of the first quarter. Gordon Hayward pulled down 5 rebounds, 3 of which came from the offensive glass. Joe Ingles continued to impress in his starting role, dropping 7 points. Although the Jazz were quick from the onset, they cooled off late in the quarter. Nonetheless, they looked great on defense, holding Golden State to just 19 points. During a stretch, Utah led by 10, but a late run by the Warriors closed it to 4. Keeping Golden State under 20 in a quarter is impressive by any standards, though, and the Jazz impressed on defense all night. It is also worth noting that the Warriors were 0/4 from three in the first quarter.
The Jazz got things going again early in the second quarter, building their lead back up to 10 over the first four minutes. Trey Burke and Dante Exum both hit from three, and solid hustle by Elijah Millsap and Trevor Booker were key during that stretch. However, the Warriors found their stride on offense later on. Stephen Curry hit back-to-back threes to bring Golden State within five. The Jazz regained their composure and rebuilt their lead, closing out the quarter with a Booker three followed by a Booker fast-break layup. Utah was very impressive on both ends of the floor, finishing the half with a 56-45 lead. Fans kept expecting the Warriors to put on one of their signature runs, but it never really happened.
The Jazz came out hot in the third quarter, forcing Golden State to call an early timeout. Booker was very effective on offense, hitting a three and coming up with several other baskets. He capped off his impressive third quarter with a block that got him a dunk on the other end. Enough can’t be said about the way the Jazz hustled tonight against a team that should have had their way with them. Every time Golden State got something going, Utah was able to respond.
In the fourth quarter the Jazz relinquished a little bit towards the end, but for the most part they had full control. At times they led by as many as 18. Golden State pulled their starters with about two minutes left, and the subs put on an impressive run. There was a brief scare towards the end of the game when Trey Burke missed a pair of free throws with the Jazz only leading by six. Joe Ingles cleaned up the glass and made up for Burke’s misses by hitting both of his free throws, effectively sealing the victory for the Jazz.
It’s no surprise that Steph Curry had a big game, the leading vote-getter for All Star Weekend finished with 32 pts, 7 rbs, and 6 ast. The bigger story was Gordon Hayward, who despite not making the All Star team finished with 26 pts, 15 rbs (career high), and 6 ast. The career night for Hayward was crucial in the Jazz victory. He truly looked like the player he is supposed to be.
This was a great night for the Jazz. Beating a top opponent at home in front of a big and enthusiastic crowd will go a long way in showing this young team how exciting the future will be if they keep putting together stretches like they did tonight. This game was a glimpse of what the Jazz could become with some development and patience.
Quin Snyder: http://espn700sports.com/?p=58172
Gordon Hayward: http://espn700sports.com/?p=58178
Derrick Favors: http://espn700sports.com/?p=58184
Dante Exum: http://espn700sports.com/?p=58190
Trevor Booker: http://espn700sports.com/?p=58196
Joe Ingles: http://espn700sports.com/?p=58202
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