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What we learned in Warriors' clutch, critical win over Jazz

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One giant down, one to go.

Barely.

Facing their most daunting back-to-back set of the season, the Warriors succeeded in Part I on Monday night, squeezing out a 119-116 win over the Utah Jazz before 4,155 at Chase Center.

The victory sends the Warriors (36-33) three games over .500 for the first time since February and allowed them to maintain their half-game lead over the Grizzlies (35-33) for eighth place in the Western Conference.

Stephen Curry scored a team-high 36 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 14.5 seconds left and two clinching free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining. Jordan Poole added 20 points and Kent Bazemore 19 to lead five Warriors in double figures.

Here are three observations from a game that, with the imposing Suns coming to Chase Center on Tuesday, assures the Warriors of at least a split against the top two teams in the conference:

The Steph Show

The Jazz pulled their Curry game plan straight from the pages of a football defensive coordinator’s playbook. Gang-tackle him at the 3-point stripe, with the attack led by Royce O’Neale, who has two inches and 30 pounds on Curry.

Curry “struggled” early against the physicality, putting up a relatively quiet 15-point first half on 5-of-11 shooting but only 1-of-5 from deep. 

But there’s always the second half, and Curry found enough rhythm in the third quarter to score 14 points. He scored 21 in the second half.

Curry’s 36 points came on 11-of-25 shooting from the field, including 3-of-13 from distance and 11-of-12 from the line. He has scored at least 30 points in 20 of his last 22 games.

 

Defense matters 

The Warriors had won 11 of their last 16 games, and they’ve done most of it with their defense. Their 104.9 rating over that span is the best in the NBA.

The Jazz, even without injured stars Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, posed a stiff challenge. Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles are all high-level scorers. The Jazz happen to be a top-three offense and are third in 3-point shooting percentage.

But the Warriors, generally playing to Utah’s offensive personnel, kept them the Jazz under wraps. Aside from occasional early lapses, Golden State’s team defense was solid enough to hold the Jazz to 45.1-percent shooting from the field, including 29.5-shooting from deep.

Still, it took a last-seconds stop by Kevon Looney against a driving Jordan Clarkson (41 points) to put this one away.

The bench did its part

The Warriors took an 89-75 lead into the fourth quarter, during which the first six minutes – when Curry is on the bench – always are crucial and sometimes pivotal.

In a high-stakes game against the team with the best record in the league – and the NBA leader in fourth-quarter scoring – the second unit didn’t blink.

Mychal Mulder scored five points in the first 59 seconds. Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole combined for nine points in three minutes. With 8:01 remaining, the Warriors had an 18-point lead (103-83). Poole scored 10 points in the quarter.

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They were up 13 when Curry returned with 6:43 to play, but were outscored 24-14 the rest of the way.

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