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.
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.
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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These Warriors don’t back down.