Warriors beat Jazz with Stephen Curry starting game with 11 points

The Golden State Warriors knew they had let one slip away days before Christmas against the Los Angeles Lakers.

This time, Stephen Curry made sure history wouldn't repeat against another Western Conference opponent.

He scored Golden State's first 11 points, then hit 2 of 3 shots in the fourth quarter, including his fourth 3-pointer, to lead the Warriors over the Utah Jazz 94-83 on Wednesday night.

“We were on a mission to come out and play well and keep our road (swagger) — the way we (did) earlier this year,” said Curry, who finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a blocked shot. “Everybody stepped up and played a physical game. We did what we had to get the job done tonight.”

The loss was only the third at home for the Jazz this season, while Golden State improved to 11-6 on the road.
“They feed off their crowd and they play hard for 48 minutes. But we do the same thing. We wanted to start off well,” Curry said.

He set the tone by hitting consecutive 3-pointers and making three free throws after being fouled on another shot beyond the arc — all in less than a minute early in the first quarter.

“He had a good night,” said Jazz point guard Jamaal Tinsley, who had his hands full trying to guard Curry while filling in for the injured Mo Williams.

“He's an aggressive point guard. You just got to try to get the ball out of his hands. But he made tough shots.”

Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson had 15 points apiece for the Warriors, who held a 25-5 advantage on fastbreak points and hit 9 of 18 3-point attempts.

The Jazz held a 40-32 advantage on points in the paint but the rebounding battle was virtually even as the Warriors held Utah to a season-low 83 points.

“We just tried to make them into a jump-shooting team,,” Curry said of the Jazz, who shot 38.6 percent and hit only 4 of 17 3-pointers.

“They have probably one of the best collaborative big-man rotations. . We played a lot more zone tonight to force them into long jump shots.”

Al Jefferson led Utah with 18 points and 10 rebounds. But he didn't get much help from the other Jazz starters. Tinsley was 0 for 3, Randy Foye 3 of 10, Paul Millsap 4 of 10 and Marvin Williams 1 of 6. Sixth man Gordon Hayward was 3 of 10 and Alec Burks 4 of 11.

“Bad shooting,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We bailed (Golden State) out by taking early shots instead of going inside.”
Corbin said the Jazz missed the pace usually provided by Williams, who is out indefinitely with a severely sprained right thumb.

“He can attack the rim, take a shot, make a shot and we just didn't get that tonight. It was a sluggish effort all night,” Corbin said.

Millsap added 14 points for Utah and Enes Kanter added 10 off the bench on 4-of-4 shooting.

The Warriors led by as many as 15 points in the first half, and took a 75-58 lead into the fourth quarter.

On Saturday, they let a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away in an 118-115 overtime loss to the Lakers.

This time they kept piling it on.

Curry showed how important it was to keep the pressure on, getting hit hard on a fastbreak layup and giving an emphatic fist pump as the ball dropped through the net and bumped Golden State's lead to 79-60 with about 10 minutes remaining.
He then drained another 3-pointer to make it 82-62 with 9:10 left.

Game over.

The Jazz, meanwhile, looked like a team that struggled to go 2-2 on a recent road trip that saw them outscored by 20 against Indiana and by 16 against Miami.

They had to rally from 16 down Sunday to beat Orlando.

Corbin spoke before the game about wanting to give Jazz fans a nice Christmas gift.

Instead the game was a dud, except for brief fireworks in the second quarter when Kanter grabbed an offensive rebound and swung his elbows wide at Carl Landry. Derrick Favors went to defend teammate Kanter but ended up in a shoving match with Jack, a fellow Georgia Tech player.

Favors and Jack were assessed double technicals and Kanter his own technical, with Jack making the free throw for a 32-23 lead with 9:19 left in the half.

“We're friends in the summertime and off the court but on the court we're enemies,” Favors said of his relationship with Jack. “He went after one of my teammates so I got to help out.”

Jack wasn't about to back down either.

“There were some comments made about our basketball team, basically calling us a soft team,” Jack said. “Over the course of the week we showed that's not the case. That was kind of the old stigma with the Golden State Warriors, but I think this group is an ultimate bunch.”

He insisted he was referring not to the altercation but being tough on the road.

“Tough is being able to go on the road, withstand runs, mentally execute your plays and tune out this noisy crowd,” he said.

The Jazz would make a second-quarter run, pulling within five after consecutive baskets by Millsap and a 3-pointer by Hayward.

But the Warriors hit two more 3s — by Jack and Thompson — to take a 49-37 halftime lead.

“The guy is an All-Star,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said of Curry. “There's no question about it. Playing at an elite level. Defending. Being a maestro for us on the offensive end. Attacking. It's great to see him healthy and being a catalyst for this basketball team in all the success we've had.”

NOTES: Neither team shot particularly well in the first half, the Jazz hitting 15 of 41 shots and the Warriors 15 of 39. But Golden State made 7 of 9 from 3-point range, including 3 of 4 by Curry. The Jazz shot just 33.3 percent in the first quarter and 29 percent in the third. . The Jazz were outscored 16-0 on the break in the first half. . Wednesday's win was the Warriors' first in Salt Lake City since Feb. 16, 2011. . Utah committed 15 turnovers.

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By John Krolik Special to The Examiner