The Warriors took a second consecutive beating, and this one was visible from 740 miles away.
That’s the distance between San Francisco and Salt Lake City, and it’s roughly the same distance between the toddler-stage Warriors and the white-hot and fully developed Utah Jazz.
Golden State fell behind in the opening minutes, spent the rest of the evening trying to get close enough to introduce suspense and, failing that, trudged out of Vivint Smart Home Arena with a 127-108 loss. They fell to .500 (8-8).
Aside from Stephen Curry (team-high 24 points) passing Reggie Miller and moving into second place on the all-time list of 3-pointers made, with 2,562, it was a comprehensively horrid night for the Warriors against a Jazz team that won its eight consecutive game.
Here are three takeaways from a game in which the Warriors trailed by as much as 40 points:
Defense failed to respond
Scolded by coach Steve Kerr for bad defense and poor execution in the loss to the Knicks on Thursday, the Warriors from the outset needed to bring energy, particularly on defense.
They failed spectacularly. Utah made its first five shots, four of them from distance and had a 14-0 lead when Kerr called timeout with 9:52 left in the first quarter. The Warriors fought back, getting as close as six (39-33) early in the second quarter, but the Jazz responded with a 21-6 run that never got much pushback.
The Warriors knew what they were getting into. Utah entered the game ranked No. 1 in 3-pointers made, No. 2 in 3-point shooting percentage and No. 7 in offensive rating. It would have taken a herculean effort to slow this juggernaut.
The Warriors brought no defensive heat and paid a predictable price.
Waiting for Mr. Oubre
Every instance in which Kelly Oubre Jr. looks like the player he was last season in Phoenix – productive, energetic and effective – seems to be followed by one or two games when delivers next to nothing.
This was such a game. Facing a terrific backcourt trio of Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson, this was a night Oubre needed to shine on defense and contribute on offense.
The three Utah guards – before the garbage-time fourth quarter – combined for 49 points, shooting 18-of-35 from the field, including 8-of-19 beyond the arc. That’s not all on Oubre, but it’s hardly representative of his typical defense.
On the other end, Oubre scored five points on 2-of-8 shooting, including 0-of-2 beyond the arc, adding three assists, two rebounds, three fouls and one turnover. He played 24 minutes and finished a team-worst minus-29.
Kerr says he doesn’t anticipate any lineup changes this early in the season, but it’s reasonable to believe Oubre is testing his patience and maybe that of a few others.
Clobbered on the glass . . . again
Rebounding It has been a problem throughout the season for the Warriors, and it was bound to be visible against the No. 2 rebounding team in the league.
Utah posted a whopping 57-35 advantage on the glass, with center Rudy Gobert’s 14 rebounds equaled the combined figure of James Wiseman (five), Andrew Wiggins (five) and Draymond Green (four) combined.
Curry led Golden State with seven rebounds.
This was the 12th time in 16 games that the Warriors have been outrebounded, and on six of those occasions it was by double digits.
Blame the flight delays on Friday that prevented the Warriors from arriving in Salt Lake City until well after midnight. Blame the 4,226-foot altitude of the Wasatch Mountains for sapping energy.
Or blame the roster, which has highlighted the need for better rebounding but has not been able to get better.