OAKLAND — Most NBA teams roll into Oracle Arena with little real hope they can beat the Warriors.
You wouldn’t think the Utah Jazz are one of them.
They’re equipped with the self-described best center in the league, Rudy Gobert, and a host of useful players that range from effective role player (Trey Lyles) to borderline star (Gordon Hayward). But they had the misfortune of playing the Dubs on Tuesday during a dominant stretch of play at home.
In five home games since losing to the Houston Rockets on Dec. 1, the Warriors have outscored their opponents, 622-469.
The Jazz did little to bust the trend.
The league leaders in defensive efficiency saw the game start in an acceptable fashion: A 0-0 tie lasted nearly three-and-a-half minutes. The first quarter ended 19-15 with both teams shooting under 27 percent.
Then, Utah let the Warriors go into full Super Villain mode.
What resulted was a 63-39 dismantling over the next two periods and — sing along if you already know the words — head coach Steve Kerr pulled the starters for the entire fourth quarter, a tradition over the last two years unlike any other in the NBA.
The 104-74 thrashing — the Jazz’s worst loss of the season, by 16 points — was such a thorough show of force that Kerr, who typically finds something to nitpick after lopsided victories, called it “one of my favorite games of the year for us.”
How could he not see it that way? The interior defense was tight, limiting Gobert to six shots and 11 points. The Warriors limited their turnovers to 10 while forcing Utah into 23 giveaways that turned into 27 points. And they even won the rebounding battle, 50-44.
“I think it’s a matter of time,” Kerr said when asked what sparked the team’s run. “… We have a lot of weapons, and they can put a lot of pressure on the defense. So if we stay with it, eventually, we know that we’ll get it going.”
Kerr spoke of joy, expressing how proud he is in his guys for playing and growing together. He had compliments for everyone up and down his roster. The team’s vice president for communications, Raymond Ridder, even felt comfortable enough to accommodate the coach’s pregame request for walkup music whenever he enters the press conference room. (The song chosen: “The Bitch is Back,” by Elton John.)
Meanwhile, in the visitors’ locker room, Gobert made his frustrations known.
“We looked like we were just scared and we shouldn’t be,” he said.
At this point, you can’t blame them for feeling that way.