Warriors

Instant Replay: Warriors 94, Jazz 83

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Instant Replay: Warriors 94, Jazz 83

BOX SCORE

These Warriors don’t back down.

Golden State revealed an additional layer of its character with a 94-83 road victory against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.

There were plenty of moments in the win emblematic of the Warriors’ transformed identity.

There was Jarrett Jack going chest-to-chest against Utah big man Enes Kanter. There was the brazen shooting and passing of Stephen Curry. And, of course, the don’t-worry-I’ve-got-this effort of Andris Biedrins.

“We are a better basketball team, a tougher basketball team, a whole different mindset,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “To win on the road you have to be tied together and we have a group of guys who are like brothers in there.”

All in all, the Warriors displayed their grit through a season-best defensive effort in which they allowed just 83 points on Utah’s 38.6 percent shooting. The win improved the Warriors to a league-best 9-1 record in games that follow a loss.

Curry Makes it Happen
It was a rare moment for Stephen Curry.

One of the game’s top shooters, Curry went cold in the third quarter, exhibited by an exceptionally scarce airball on an open perimeter jumper. Curry, who led all scorers in the first half with 18 points on 5-for-8 shooting, went just 2-for-10 in the second half.

But Curry, who finished the night with 23 points, found a way to do more when he couldn’t shoot and totaled eight rebounds and seven assists.

He used a behind-the-back dribble and an acrobatic finish to score his first bucket of the second half in the fourth quarter and moments later added his fourth three-pointer of the night.
 

Game Changer
The rookie isn’t going to be perfect.

In the first possessions of the game, veteran scoring big man Al Jefferson went to work on Festus Ezeli. With up-fakes and skilled footwork, Jefferson breezed past the first-year center and forced Jackson to go to Biedrins within the first two minutes of the game.

Biedrins proved invaluable. With experience guarding Jefferson and knowing to simply stay down on defense, Biedrins anchored the Warriors’ interior defense and added 12 rebounds in 18 minutes.

“If there is a game ball, it definitely goes to (Biedrins),” Jack said.

Later, Ezeli proved to learn his lesson, aided by the shouting of “stay down!” from the Warriors bench.

Small scuffle
Technicals were handed out in the second quarter when Utah and Golden State players came to a minor scrum on the court.

The play began after Carl Landry fouled Kanter, who didn’t like the foul and gave a slight elbow swing towards Landry followed by an angry stare. Jack responded and quickly went chest-to-chest with Kanter before he was shoved away by Utah’s Favors.

After the push, Jack and Favors held jerseys and shared words while teammates from both sides hurried around them, simply holding one another back. Kanter earned the technical while Favors and Jack were given double-technical fouls.

Where’s your point?
As talented and big as they are inside, the Jazz couldn’t control the Warriors’ point guards.

Without Utah’s starting point guard Mo Williams, who sat due to a sprained right thumb, the Jazz relied on point guards Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson. Curry and Jack outscored Utah’s duo, 38-0.

“Steph got us going early in the first and the rest of us just followed suit,” Jack said.

Battling just enough inside
The Jazz, loaded with talent in a frontcourt that features the tandem of Jefferson and Paul Millsap, as well as the bench strength of Favors, Kanter and Marvin Williams, outrebounded the Warriors 44-43. Golden State kept them at bay just enough, but was outscored 40-32 in the paint.

The Warriors did limit the Jazz to nine offensive rebounds, a figure below their season average of 13.4 per game. David Lee scored 18 points and totaled nine rebounds.

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With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

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AP

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

OAKLAND -- Getting to 73 wins is impossible for the Warriors, and the pursuit of it never entered their minds.

Reaching 69 wins, their average in three seasons under coach Steve Kerr, is highly improbable.

Even winning 67 games, the lowest total under Kerr, is extremely unlikely.

There is, however, a number the Warriors are aiming for that also happens to be within their grasp -- but only if they can fight through the regular-season malaise and break an unhealthy tendency.

They can get to 35 victories at Oracle Arena. Currently 16-6 at home, the Warriors would have to go 19-0 to reach 35, and it’s possible insofar as they are less than two years removed from posting an NBA-record 54 consecutive wins at home.

Can a team that once went 14 months without losing at Oracle summon a three-month stretch of perfection at home?

The schedule invites the possibility, but it’s still up to the Warriors and how they cope with tug of three long seasons and that tendency to float a bit in front of their home fans, two factors that have had more effect at home than on the road.

“In general, the appropriate fear we always talk about, it’s there on the road for most games and it’s not there as much at home,” Kerr conceded Monday.

Kevin Durant used different phrasing but echoed the comments of the coach.

“You tend to relax a bit when you’re at home because you’ve got your home crowd,” he acknowledged. “You’re just comfortable in that situation. You can go home and go to sleep in your own bed after the game. So you relax a bit.

“On the road, it just feels like this is the last game of your career. It just feels that way, especially when you’re playing a tough opponent and somewhere with a crowd that’s going to be really, really into it.”

Having gone 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over the last three seasons, the Warriors are assured of having their worst home record under Kerr. Still, 35 is not impossible.

The drop is not unanticipated, as Kerr experienced something similar as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, when they won three straight championships as their regular-season wins steadily dropped, from 72 to 69 to 62.

“Where it has truly been the most tangible and palpable is home games against lesser opponents,” Kerr said. “We’ve lost six. Maybe two of those are playoff teams.

“We didn’t lose those games the last the last three years. We dominated the home floor. That’s where it really shows.”

The Warriors have lost at home to the Rockets, Pistons, Kings, Nuggets, Hornets and Clippers. Only Houston is a playoff lock. Detroit, Denver and the Clippers are on the fringe of the postseason race. Charlotte is a longshot, Sacramento a no-shot.

The Warriors, in every home loss, have started drowsily or played too carelessly or were self-destructive enough to give back a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

“This is the first year in my four years where we’ve lost a lot of home games that we shouldn’t,” Kerr said. “That just points to emotional fatigue. Trying to get up for 82 games is a difficult thing, especially in Year 4 of a quest to get back to The Finals.”

Coming off a successful road trip during which they won four of five games, the Warriors this week face the Knicks, Timberwolves and Celtics -- the latter two being playoff locks.

A home sweep is difficult, of course, but hardly inconceivable. And if the Warriors can pull that off, they’d have only four remaining home games against teams fighting for a top-four playoff slot: the Thunder and Spurs twice each.

Oklahoma City appears to be getting their act together. The Spurs, while still formidable, are starting to look like a team in decline.

They’re also the two teams most likely to get the full attention of the Warriors, who began the week by sitting through video of their last three games, during which they committed numerous hideous errors.

The message: Their unforced mistakes are the surest route to defeat.

“There are key points of the year where we have to hit the reset button in terms of our priorities,” Kerr said. “Right now is one of those times. This is an important week for us. We need to take care of the ball. We need to be smart and make good decisions. If we do that, we’re really, really hard to beat.”

Former coach takes epic shot at Cavs after they gave up 148 points to OKC

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USATSI

Former coach takes epic shot at Cavs after they gave up 148 points to OKC

When it rains, it pours for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After starting the season 24-9, they have cratered. Including two losses to the Warriors and one to the Kings, the Cavs are 3-8 over their last 11 games.

During the stretch, they suffered through a four-game losing streak and nearly blew a 23-point lead against the Magic on Thursday.

But nothing was worse than what happened in front of a national TV audience on Saturday. The visiting Oklahoma City Thunder strolled into Quicken Loans Arena and hung 148 points on the defending Eastern Conference champs and won by 24 points.

Saturday's performance was so bad, former Cavs head coach David Blatt took a shot at them before coaching the Team Europe in the Turkish Basketball Super League All-Star Game in Instabul.

Asked by a sideline reporter for his thoughts on the game he was about to coach, Blatt offered this:

"Well, I don't think we're going to have any problem scoring. I'm just wondering if we're going to defend anybody. That's what I'm worried about," Blatt said.

The reporter followed up by asking for his expectation of the final score. That's when Blatt threw a haymaker at the team that fired him during the 2015-16 season despite a 30-11 record.

"Well, I hope we don't give up as many points as the Cavaliers did last night," Blatt said.

Ouch.

Unfortunately for Blatt, Team Europe lost 151-142 to Team Asia.