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If there’s one guy who embodies the persona of this Golden State Warriors team, it’s Jarrett Jack.
The veteran backup guard is as persevering as he is gritty, and his tell-it-how-it-is attitude is honored in the Warriors locker room.
The 29-year-old, in his eighth season and playing for his fifth team, was counseling rookie Festus Ezeli after Saturday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“He wasn’t happy with a couple of plays for himself individually down the stretch, I just shared with him a moment I had my rookie year worse than that,” said Jack, who is averaging 15.5 points and six assists off the bench in December.
The tough overtime loss to the Lakers might be tough to swallow for some of the team’s young players, but Jack’s voice in the locker room was that of moving on and not dwelling.
Soon after, he was chatting with Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes about the loss but more so about the big picture of the team’s direction from there.
Jack made it clear that the Warriors aren’t interested in moral victories, and he feels the team can win every game.
“The NBA has a bunch of ups and downs,” Jack said. “You have to stay on the straight and narrow, and put the last game behind and move forward.”
It was the team’s final game before a mini-break for Christmas that ends tonight for a road game against the Utah Jazz.
Harder from here
The real test begins now.
As the Warriors head into 2013, the schedule makes a dramatic shift to playing more difficult teams. If they were playing junior varsity, they’re now stepping up to varsity.
Eight of the last 12 Warriors’ opponents have held records below the .500 mark at the time the teams met.
The Warriors went 8-4 during that 12-game stretch, including wins at the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks, but losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and two to the Orlando Magic.
But if the NBA’s regular season is a challenge of various tests, this midterm exam might be one of the more difficult.
With the season just passing its one-third mark, the Warriors begin a stretch of 10 games that include eight teams above .500. Included in that stretch are road games at the Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs and home games versus the Boston Celtics, Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and Heat.
Starting in Utah
Tonight’s road contest against the Jazz offers a new set of challenges for the Warriors.
Golden State’s frontcourt will be tested by the size and depth of the Jazz. Utah features the tandem of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap that combines for 30 points and 18.3 rebounds per game.
But the depth doesn't end there, as young power forwards Marvin Williams and Derrick Favors, and center Enes Kanter, provide further rebounding and scoring.
Golden State is ranked No. 4 in the league in rebounding and Utah enters tonight ranked No. 8. The Warriors are 17-2 this season when they outrebound their opponent.
David Lee leads Golden State's rebounding efforts at 11.3 per game. The star forward is also averaging 20 points per game and leads the league in 20-point, 10-rebound games.
Follow @jimmypspencer on Twitter for more Warriors news and analysis. Follow along with #warriorstalk during tonight’s game at Utah.