BY MASON BISSADA
The Golden State Warriors became the latest victim of the surging Utah Jazz on Wednesday, falling 129-96 at the Chase Center in what was essentially a wire-to-wire defeat.
Utah, which came into the game having won 17 of their last 19 games, dominated Golden State on both sides of the ball from the opening tip. A gradual progression of a blowout began with a 14-point lead after one quarter, extended to a 22-point lead at halftime and jumped to a 31-point lead after three quarters, at which point both teams emptied their benches and played 12 minutes of pickup ball.
“I think we ran into a team that’s playing about as well as anybody in the league,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said postgame. “They’re clicking. They’re dominating right now and they dominated us at both ends right from the beginning. I thought we got demoralized in the first half.”
Defensively, the Jazz (currently ranked eighth in the NBA in defense), held the Warriors to just 39.8% shooting (26.1% from 3) despite a relatively healthy Golden State roster. Reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert was his usual rim-deterrent self, blocking three shots and constantly discouraging Warriors from driving anywhere near the paint.
“He’s a big dude,” said D’Angelo Russell of Gobert’s defensive presence. “You definitely think you might have [a shot] and he may affect it, just because of his length. He’s been dominating the game on the defensive end for years now.”
Despite turning the ball over just eight times (tied for their lowest total of the season), Golden State’s offense was miserable as they settled for tough midrange jumpers and shot just 6-23 (26.1%) from 3-point range. With that amount of missed shots, it was no surprise the Jazz outrebounded the Warriors 56-37.
Offensively, Golden State gifted the Jazz whatever they wanted. Corner-3 specialists Bojan Bogdanovic (18 points) and Joe Ingles (11 points and eight assists) went a combined 6-11 from beyond the arc. Overall, the Jazz shot 17-40 (42.5%) from deep. These defensive lapses by Golden State can partially be accredited to the equally-imposing offensive presence of Gobert, who pitched in a monster 22-point, 15-rebound double-double. Gobert’s athleticism and strength makes him a deadly pick-and-roll threat playing off of likely All-Star Donovan Mitchell (23 points on 8-13 shooting). When Utah ran pick-and-roll, Golden State had no choice but to collapse their defense and leave Utah’s shooters wide open.
For Golden State, D’Angelo Russell continues to put up numbers that don’t necessarily translate to wins. Russell quietly scored 26 points on 10-21 shooting to go along with three rebounds, three assists and just one turnover. The Jazz defense forced Golden State into midrange jumpers, but that’s the type of shot Russell often prefers. His trade value remains somewhat high as the trade deadline approaches, but it still appears Golden State is adamant on keeping the young star for the remainder of the dwindling season.
Draymond Green contributed another Charles Barkley-coined triple-single, tallying five points, four rebounds, two assists and one technical foul in 25 minutes of play. In an effort to spark a bit of offense into his group, Kerr closed the first half by moving Green to center and Glenn Robinson III (10 points, 2-4 from three) to power forward, but the shift provided little fruit on either end of the floor. Still, it’s encouraging to see Golden State attempting the unconventional, seeing as the conventional hasn’t worked in the slightest this season.
There is only so much any team can do when matched up against a squad that is clicking as much as the Jazz are. Still, the progressive nature of this blowout suggests the Warriors showed little resilience in the face of this adversity. There were no spurts or runs by Golden State from which to gleam any positivity. It was a bad loss that only got worse as the game went on.
Golden State will hope to regain some positivity against Indiana on Friday at 7:30 PM, as they welcome the Pacers to the Bay Area for the only time this season.
This was already the fourth and final matchup against Utah this season, in which the Warriors were swept (0-4) by the Jazz for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
D’Angelo Russell has scored 20+ points in 10 of his last 12 games.
Jacob Evans III played limited minutes in his first game back since his concussion (scoring four points).