The Warriors started 2022 with a bang.
After not playing for four days, the Warriors began their game against the Utah Jazz with fresh legs, aggression and good execution. It was their second game without Draymond Green, and it felt like they had figured out how to tread water without him. Golden State's defense was strong. And they were hitting on offense.
In the third quarter, the Warriors cooled off, the fouls started piling up and the Jazz started to roll. But in the fourth, Golden State regained their composure. The Warriors found what they had early on and pushed themselves to the 123-116 win.
The Warriors outscored the Jazz 37-25 in the fourth, a sharp and direct turnaround from their performance in the third that saw them give up a staggering 44 points to Utah -- the most points they've given up in a single quarter this season. It was fueled by fouling.
Steve Kerr got a technical, Kevon Looney got called on multiple illegal screens, and Andre Iguodala got called for a technical, needing Gary Payton II to pull him away from the referee. As the Warriors (28-7) got more and more frustrated, the Jazz (26-10) continued to go on their run.
Whatever was said in the huddle between the third and fourth quarters must have worked, as the Warriors stormed back to start the new year off on the right foot.
Steph Curry hit several huge shots late to help seal the win. The NBA MVP frontrunner finished with a game-high 28 points on 8-of-18 shooting, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range.
Here are three takeaways from the night:
Wiggs remains aggressive
Andrew Wiggins has wasted no time asserting himself back on the floor since returning from the NBA's health and safety protocol.
In his second game back, Wiggins finished with 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting, including four 3-pointers, four assists and two steals against the Jazz. And once again, he did it by being confident.
It's becoming repetitive to say, but when Wiggins moves with decisiveness and remains calm under pressure, he's almost unstoppable. Case and point: His corner 3-pointer with five minutes to go to take a three-point lead as Rudy Gobert closed out on him.
On the other end, Wiggins helped hold Donovan Mitchell to 4-of-19 shooting.
Otto-matic Porter Jr.
Otto Porter Jr. has constantly been a guy who steps up when the Warriors need him most. He did against the Clippers just after Thanksgiving. And he did it again in Phoenix on Christmas.
In Utah, he came through once more. Porter finished the night with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
The need for Porter to step up -- and have a two-way presence -- has only increased in the wake of Draymond Green entering the health and safety protocol. And it's been apparent in the two games the Warriors have played without Green.
Against the Denver Nuggets four days ago, Porter was held scoreless in 26 minutes. He was a non-factor in the game, and the Warriors failed to get that final spark to carry them past the Nuggets. But against the Jazz, he did a little bit of everything.
This is the version of Porter the Warriors need -- and have been getting for the majority of the season -- no matter who is available.
Iguodala stabilizes the Dubs
When Iguodala got called for a technical in the third quarter, it's as if there was a gear shift that changed in his brain. He had had enough of the Jazz storming their way back and wanted to put an end to it.
He was a major stabilizer for the Warriors down the stretch on his way to 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-3 from three, seven rebounds and eight assists in 24 minutes.
Iguodala has always had the clutch gene, and in Utah, he hit a couple of key shots for the Warriors. The first came with seven minutes left in the game when he hit a 3-pointer to get within one.
He then hit the dagger shot for the Warriors: Another three from the exact same spot -- the upper right side of the 3-point arc -- to push the lead to seven with 38 seconds to go.
The calming and stabilizing effect Iguodala had against Utah is the same force he had in his first stint with the Warriors all those years ago, and it's why they brought him back over the summer.