Down 0-2, Jazz leave Oakland 'encouraged, more determined'

Down 0-2, Jazz leave Oakland 'encouraged, more determined'

OAKLAND -- The Utah Jazz are grasping at straws. After another tough defeat at the hands of the high-powered Golden State Warriors, the series shifts to Utah for Game 3 and it’s back to the drawing board for Quin Snyder and his staff.

“You’re encouraged about some of the things you did,” Snyder said of whether his team should be encouraged or discouraged heading back home 0-2. “I wouldn’t use the word discouraged as much as we need to be more determined to play better other aspects of the game”

Snyder had to lead his team into battle without his starting point guard George Hill, who missed the contest with a toe injury. With Hill ailing, reserve guard Shelvin Mack picked up the start and posted a solid game for Utah. Mack shot 4-for-11 from the field on his way to 14 points and four assist in the loss.

“He was aggressive, he competed, you could see the effort and the intensity,” Snyder said. “That’s all you want is a guy to go out and leave it out there and compete and that’s what he did.”

After a quiet Game 1, Gordon Hayward came to play. Hayward finished the opener with just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting, but he looked like a completely different player in Game 2.

The All-Star wing went off late, scoring 21 of his 33 points in the second half. He shot 11-of-21 from the field, including three makes from behind the 3-point stripe and he managed to add four assists and grab five rebounds.

Utah has yet to take a lead in either of the first two games. They trailed 33-15 at the end of the first quarter and spent the next 36 minutes trying to dig out of the hole.

“After we got blitzed there in the first quarter, once we settled in, we kind of figured it out a little bit,” Hayward said. “We figured out how to get it into the paint and get some shots for ourselves - some better looks. Our spacing was a lot better and we’re going to have to try and take that and move forward with it.”

Like Hayward, big man Rudy Gobert had a tough first game against Golden State. Known for his ability to block shots, Gobert has had to adjust to playing against a myriad of different looks from the Warriors.

The 7-foot-1 center aggressively attacked the Warriors on the offensive end, scoring 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He added 16 rebounds, but failed to block a shot in his 37 minutes on the court.

“First of all, I’m feeling better physically,” Gobert said. “I had a few injuries last series, but I’m just feeling better and you kind of get used to playing these guys and their physicality. So every game we try and get better and I feel like I’m feeling better every game.”

Following the Warriors win, the series shifts to Utah where the Jazz will host Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Monday with the hopes to staving off elimination.

“Definitely excited to play in front of our fans, I know they’ll be excited to have us and we’re going to need them,” Hayward said. “They’ll be really important for us. They always bring us a lot of energy and it will be fun playing in front of our fans.”

The Jazz haven’t been home in a while after finishing their series on the road on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers. They’ll need to take at least one game in Utah if they hope to get back to Oracle Arena for a Game 5 late next week.

Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays


Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays

OAKLAND -- When he returns to the Warriors, likely on Friday, Stephen Curry will alter nothing about his game despite coming off a four-month period during which his surgically repaired right ankle endured multiple aggravations.

He’ll be the same Curry that fans have come to know, diving into passing lanes on defense while firing up 3-pointers and darting in and out of paint traffic on offense.

It’s the only way he knows how to play, and he’s played long enough to accept that it comes with risk.

“When I wake up in the morning I’ll know the difference between my right (ankle) and my left,” Curry said Thursday after practice. “But that won’t stop me from being who I am on the floor and having confidence in myself when I get back out there.”

Curry missed 11 games after spraining his ankle on Dec. 4 in New Orleans. He missed two games after tweaking it in shootaround on Jan 10. He missed no games after tweaking it March 2 in Atlanta. He has missed the last six games after tweaking it on March 8 against the Spurs.

“I’ve been very durable over the course of my career,” said Curry, who is listed as probable but fully expects to play Friday against Atlanta. “It’s just that I’ve had three untimely, freak accidents happen.”

Curry stepped on E’twaun Moore’s foot in New Orleans, on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Atlanta and Dejounte Murray’s foot against the Spurs at Oracle Arena.

Not once in the previous five regular seasons did Curry miss significant time due to his tricky ankle. He missed a total of 16 games during that span, never more than four in a season, and six of those were for reasons of rest.

This season, however, has tested Curry’s patience like nothing since 2011-12, after which he had his second ankle surgery. He concedes that being in and out of the lineup has left him at times feeling “boredom, monotony and frustration.”

Though some of that can be attributed to the rehab process, there is no doubt part of that stems from watching the Warriors from the sideline.

With Curry out of the lineup this season, the Warriors are 13-8 (he missed one game with a hand bruise, another with a thigh bruise). That they are 40-10 when he’s in the lineup illustrates his importance.

It’s not just that he’s important. Curry is the catalyst for the offense and he can only be that if he is playing without regard for the possibility of injury. A hesitant Curry can’t be an effective Curry, so full throttle is the only way to go.

"If we’re trying to win a championship, I need to be out there,” he said. “That’s a given. We want every single guy out there, healthy and available, myself included. That’s the ideal situation.”

If he gets hurt along the way, so be it. As man of faith, he believes that anything that happens is influenced by a higher power.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting 3s or pullups are going into the lane or playing defense, that’s liable to happen any time,” Curry said. “Other than those instances, I haven’t had anything to worry about on the injury front. We are prisoners of the moment when it comes (playing the game). I don’t feel like I’m at a point where I have to change anything based on me being a durable player and being on the court consistently.

“Down the line, if you ask me about it in three of four years, there might be something I might need to change. But not right now.”

There is a segment of fans, worried about Curry’s health and realizing it is tied to the fate of the team, who would like him to dial back his aggression. Maybe avoid the paint and settle for more jump shots. He’s heard the advice and is not unwilling to launch a few more shots from deep.

But Curry is going to go where he sees daylight, and the best chance to make a positive play. He’ll take his chances because hesitation has no place in his mind or his game.


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'

Back in late October, the Warriors declined their $2.3 million team option on Kevon Looney for the 2018-19 season.

How did that make him feel?

"It was kind of a let down," Looney told Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson on the Warriors Plus/Minus Podcast. "I knew it was up in the air. It was going back and forth, back and forth. When they didn't pick it up -- they told me why, I understood, I've been here for three years, I've seen a lot of players come and go; I know basketball is a business -- I was kind of let down.

"But I knew I was going to try and make the most of it. Now I'm playing for my contract for next year. I just wanted to go prove myself. I knew this summer there was a lot of doubts about what I could do. People were doubting if I would even be in the NBA still ... I knew what I was capable of."

Looney underwent surgery on his right hip in August 2015, and appeared in just five games during his rookie season.

He then had surgery on his left hip in April 2016, and appeared in 53 games (8.4 minutes per night) during the 2016-17 season.

This year, he's averaging career highs in points (3.5), rebounds (2.9), blocks (0.7) and minutes (12.0).

"This summer, I decided I just wanted to try go back to the way I played in college. It's been working for me," Looney explained. "I lost about 30 pounds this offseason and it's really made me a lot faster and a lot quicker. And I've been staying healthy."

How did he drop all that weight?

"A lot of broccoli and turkey and plain food. Food that wasn't that good but it's something that I had to get used to," Looney said. "Taco Bell, fried chicken, I was eating that on the regular ... coming off of injury, you can't eat like that. It's a different level of intensity in the NBA.

"I had to change my diet. Andre (Iguodala) was in my ear for two years about it. I finally listened to him and it paid off."

Looney will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Although the Warriors declined the option, the 22-year old could return to Golden State -- but the max amount the Warriors can offer him is $2.3 million.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller