Fresh from a much-needed, four-day break that included two days with no practice, the Warriors showed no signs of slowing down.
Not with their unbeaten home record still intact — and certainly not with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers coming to town.
If anything, the defending NBA champs proved that even on a slow night they’re still good enough to keep rolling along.
Klay Thompson scored 20 points, Stephen Curry added 16 with nine assists and the Warriors remained undefeated at home this season with a 103-85 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
“There’s always a little bit of rust with a layoff like we’ve had but it’s that time of the year, too,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “It’s December, our guys have been playing at such a high level. You’re going to have letdowns every once in a while. I was happy with our effort for the most part.”
Andrew Bogut added 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Draymond Green had 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Warriors (27-1) in their final tuneup before an NBA Finals rematch against James and the Cavs on Christmas.
Curry was kicked in the calf in the third quarter but told Walton that he felt fine.
What’s next is a game that several Cleveland players said they’ve been looking forward to for some time. Walton and the Warriors, though, insist they hadn’t even discussed it until after beating the Jazz.
For good reason, too.
Utah, which lost to Golden State 106-103 on Nov. 30, pushed the Warriors again before fading in the fourth quarter.
“We knew they were going to try to slow the game down and keep it close,” Bogut said. “You don’t overlook teams in this league, especially a team like the Utah Jazz. They’ll really hurt you if you do.”
Golden State led by 10 with less than 6 minutes remaining before Curry’s second 3-pointer of the game sparked a 14-5 run to help the Warriors seal the victory. It was their 13th in a row at home this season and the 31st consecutive win at Oracle Arena dating to last season — an ongoing franchise record.
“You see so much about their offense, sometimes you forget about their defense,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of the Warriors. “We got tentative. If we make a couple of those (3-pointers), the game gets tighter.”
The Warriors controlled the game most of the night despite Walton mixing up his rotations. At one point early in the fourth quarter, Walton had Thompson playing with the second group while the rest of the starters rested on the bench.
It didn’t seem to matter much.
The defending champions had four starters reach double figures and shot 47 percent from the field.
The Warriors’ defense was equally sharp while forcing Utah into 20 turnovers. They also matched their season high of nine blocked shots — four by backup center Festus Ezeli.
“I thought we were pretty solid on defense most of the game,” Walton said. “We had a couple breakdowns . but our communication and our effort level was more of what we’re accustomed to from our players.”
The Warriors led by 13 following Andre Iguodala’s 3-pointer early in the second quarter. They withstood a 14-4 run by Utah and answered with a big spurt of their own to pull away before halftime.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who continues to take it slow during his painful rehabilitation from back surgery, is definitely getting closer to returning to the bench. Making it through Tuesday’s practice before handing the reins back to Walton for the morning shootaround Wednesday was an encouraging sign. “I know he’s really into it and it’s killing him not being out there with the guys,” Walton said. “He’s antsy to get back but there is just no way of knowing when.”
Harrison Barnes missed his 11th straight game and is doubtful to play on Christmas because of his lingering sprained left ankle. Golden State has another home game after that before going on a two-game road trip, and the coaching staff is hopeful Barnes will return during that stretch. Bogut was back in the lineup after being limited to 5 minutes against Milwaukee last Friday because of a back strain.