Utah Jazz

Why Jazz star Donovan Mitchell respects Warriors' Damion Lee so much

Why Jazz star Donovan Mitchell respects Warriors' Damion Lee so much

In 2015-16, the Warriors went 73-9 and Steph Curry became the first unanimous MVP in NBA history.

It's safe to assume most Dubs fans didn't pay too much attention to college hoops that year. So they might not know that Golden State guard Damion Lee and Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell were teammates at Louisville that season.

Lee -- a redshirt senior -- averaged a team-best 15.9 points per game, while Mitchell -- a freshman -- averaged 7.4 points off the bench.

After the Jazz beat the Warriors at Chase Center on Jan. 22, Mitchell gave an awesome quote about Lee to Marcus Thompson of The Athletic:

"He’s a motherfu--er for real. He’s a guy that wants to go out there and hoop and be the best for his team and I respect that about him for sure.”

Lee has overcome two ACL tears -- one on Nov. 27, 2013 and the other on Dec. 23, 2016 -- to get to this point in his career.

He also broke the same bone in his right hand twice during his basketball journey.

But none of these injuries could derail him.

[RELATED: Warriors coach says team 'having more fun' with Wiggins]

Lee is averaging 12.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists this season, scoring 20 or more points seven times.

“He’s improved a ton,” assistant general manager Kirk Lacob told Thompson. “Worked his a-- off.”

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Warriors' frustrations bubbling to surface after team reaches new low

Warriors' frustrations bubbling to surface after team reaches new low

SAN FRANCISCO -- The hope is that Stephen Curry returns sometime after the All-Star break and, even before he has a chance to shoot holes through a defense, gives the Warriors a few elements they desperately need.

That is, at the most optimistic, at least 10 games away. Realistically, more like 15.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are facing the stiff headwinds that blow during the dog days of January. They’re stumbling. Tumbling. They’ve lost 12 of their last 13 games, and their showing Wednesday night may have been the most fretful yet.

In the course of being thrashed, 129-96, by the Utah Jazz, there were too many moments when the despair was profoundly evident. Flat-footed and often careless on defense. A lack of passion and purpose on both ends. And, of course, moments of frustration.

“When you’re losing a lot of games and you’re beaten up, it’s not easy,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’ve lost 12 of 13. It’s no fun. Draymond (Green) got a technical for slamming the ball down and I guess the official (fourth-year ref Jacyn Goble) had to call it.

“Draymond came over and said, ‘You don’t think I’m frustrated?’ And the official said, ‘I know you’re frustrated, but I still have to call it.

“That’s how we feel. We’re frustrated. And I’m frustrated.”

With young players forced to learn in real-time, veterans trying to produce while also tutoring and coaches biting their tongues, a perfect storm of wretchedness has descended upon the franchise that spent most of the past five years as the boss of the NBA.

Draymond submits another line (five points, four rebounds, two assists) uncharacteristic of his career and also is assessed his 12th technical foul in 33 games.

D’Angelo Russell scores 26 points, but generally gazes as drivers whoosh by and rebounds float past his ear.

Willie Cauley-Stein shoots 0-for-5 and stands motionless as Rudy Gobert swoops in for a dunk.

Rookie Jordan Poole shoots 0-for-6 and is showing signs of regression after four encouraging games.

“It’s tough,” Russell said. “We’re playing the cards that we’re dealt. It’s not easy winning in this league. But what you can do is continue to compete, continue to learn what you do well as an individual, what you can be better at as an individual and then, hopefully, that can be part of meshing with the other guys on the team.”

There have been nights when this was apparent. Remember the four-game win streak last month that included a double-digit win over Houston? The Warriors took Denver into overtime last week before being derailed by their shortcomings, and then beat Orlando two nights later.

There was no sign of such progress Wednesday, much less any chance of upsetting a Jazz team playing better than anybody in the league.

It looked as if the Warriors saw defeat coming and surrendered to it.

“We don’t have a consistent effort,” Russell conceded.

“They are a great team,” Glenn Robinson III said. “They move the ball and play together. I think that we can learn a lot of things from them.”

Hmm. Might that be a subtle hint that some of those zero-pass possessions D-Lo seems to manufacture several times a game might be counterproductive?

There was a lot of talk about the young guys -- rookies Eric Paschall and Poole, and second-year guard Jacob Evans III -- needing time to adjust to the ways of the NBA, its physicality and demanding schedule. And while there is some truth to that, the Warriors on this night and a few others have fallen victim to their own inertia.

[RELATED: Outsider Observations: Stop comparing Paschall to Draymond]

Maybe it crested against the Jazz, who outrebounded the Warriors 56-37 and drained 11 more 3-pointers (17-6) while shooting 53.8 percent from the field. Utah missed 11 free throws and still won by 33.

Kerr used the term “demoralized” several times after the game, and it seemed fitting to the effort. But it’s Game No. 46, and it must be played. Then, too, the checks still cash.

“It’s no fun losing,” Kerr said. “But you have to go out and we have another game in two days and you have to keep pushing and keep plugging away.

“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, especially after the last five years.”

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 129-96 blowout loss vs. Jazz

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 129-96 blowout loss vs. Jazz


SAN FRANCISCO -- In a season of unwanted firsts for the Warriors under coach Steve Kerr, another authoritatively landed on their heads Wednesday night at Chase Center.

Their 129-96 loss to the Utah Jazz represents the first 0-4 record in a season series under Kerr.

The Warriors (10-36), who have lost 12 of their last 13 games, were led in scoring by D’Angelo Russell, who totaled a game-high 26 points.

Utah (31-13) is the hottest team in the NBA, having won 18 of its last 20 games.

Here are three takeaways from a game in which the Warriors trailed by double digits after the opening nine minutes:

Destroyed on the glass

Because the Jazz, with 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert, are among the bigger teams in the NBA, the Warriors know the formula on the glass is to be hyper-aggressive. That’s how they outrebounded Utah in two of three previous meetings.

That aggression rarely surfaced Wednesday, and the Warriors paid for their negligence. They were clobbered, 56-37, in that area.

Far too often, they were caught flat-footed. One glaring example came in the second quarter, when Jordan Clarkson missed a 3-pointer from the top of the arc and the long rebound bounced back to him as Russell offered a half-hearted stride and flail.

Marquese Chriss grabbed a team-high eight boards, and Alec Burks snagged six. No starter had more than four.

[RELATED: Why Dubs are in power position with Burks at trade deadline]

Simply put, the Warriors were outworked. This was the sixth time in the last eight games that Golden State was beaten on the glass -- and the worst differential this season.

Draymond vs. whistles

Though he has come perilously close in the past, Draymond Green has never crossed the threshold for being assessed technical fouls without suspension.

That could change this season. He was T’d up for the NBA-high 12th time this season Wednesday night and is five away from 17, which would result in an automatic one-game suspension. The fine, which rises to $4,000 once a player reaches 11, rises to $5,000 once a player reaches 16.

Green is averaging one technical foul every 2.75 games he plays -- by far the highest per-game average in the league this season and also the highest of his career.

Truth told, if ever there is to be a season when Green might take a suspension, it is this one. There are no stakes, and he is at his most effective when the games really matter.

D-Lee and his missing 3

The 3-point shot, which was Damion Lee’s ticket out of the G League and into the NBA, is in snooze mode.

Lee was 0-of-1 from beyond the arc Wednesday, and in four games since his two-way contract was converted to a standard NBA contract, he is 3-of-15 from distance.

The numbers are particularly surprising insofar as Lee had been shooting so well since entering the starting lineup on Dec. 15 and becoming a fixture. In 10 games last month, he shot 42.5 percent from deep.

Lee likely will remain the starting shooting guard, at least for now. Rookie Jordan Poole isn’t ready for that burden and any chance of going back to the Stephen Curry-D’Angelo Russell backcourt that opened the season is more than a month away.