Posted on January 31, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Houston Rockets think they can take down the Golden State Warriors in a best of seven series. But while they did win the season series against the Warriors, beating them in four out of seven games is something else entirely. Steve Kerr has been in the game long enough to know that and is likely not concerned about the Rockets claims.
More than likely, the only thing that can beat his team is his team— which is exactly what happened Tuesday night against the Utah Jazz.
Utah is not a bad team, but after losing Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics in the offseason, they are not as good this season as they were last. Entering the game with the Warriors, they were 21-28 and had won their last two (against Toronto and Detroit).
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But no matter how hot they were, they shouldn’t have been a match for the Golden State Warriors.
But they were. Actually—they were not just a match for the Warriors. They dominated them from the beginning of the game until the end.
Utah started the game with a quick five-point spurt with a 15-footer by Donovan Mitchell and a three-pointer by Joe Ingles. Normally, that would be the point where the Warriors would take control of the game with a couple of three-pointers and a defensive stop or two.
They were able to tie the game up at one point but were never able to take the lead. Utah led by five after the first, 35-30. They stretched it out to 13-points at the half, 69-56. By the time the third period was over, it was clear the night wasn’t going to belong to the Warriors.
“I saw one team get their (tail) kicked,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after the game (ESPN). “Our hearts weren’t in it. At this level, if your heart’s not in it, I don’t care how much talent you have. You’re going to lose. … It happens. It’s the NBA. It’s a long season.”
By the end of the third, the lead was up to 18-points. But the Warriors couldn’t score to save their lives in the fourth. Utah outscored them by 12 points (26-14) to make the final 129-99.
“When you play against the champs, you always get that extra energy,” Jazz guard Ricky Rubio said after the game (ESPN). “But we got to bring it every night. It was a great night to see where our level can be and we got to bring it every night.”
The loss was easily the worst the Warriors have had this season. With how the Jazz were shooting the ball, it is not hard to understand why. As a team, they hit 58.2 percent of their shots including 50 percent from three-point range.
Ricky Rubio led the way for the Jaz with 23 points and 11 assists followed by Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles with 20 points. Derrick Favors chipped in a double-double with 18 points and ten rebounds. Klay Thompson led the way for the Warriors with 27 points followed by Kevin Durant (17 points) and Steph Curry (14 points).
As a team, the Warriors only hit five of 25 three-point attempts.
While it looked bad, the loss is nothing in the broad scheme of the season. Now if the Warriors start mailing it in night after night, then maybe Steve Kerr should be concerned. But it is highly unlikely his guys are going to do that. It would not be shocking if they were to try and make a statement by destroying their next opponent (sorry, Sacramento Kings; Friday night).
Utah is still 3.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the West. But with how the Nuggets are playing and the Clippers trading away Blake Griffin, it is not hard to imagine them making up the difference. They’ll take the court next against the Suns in Phoenix Friday night.