Warriors Explode in Third Quarter, Beat Jazz 126-101
After beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in a thrilling Christmas Day matchup, the Golden State Warriors (27-7) would face the Utah Jazz (15-20). This would be the first matchup between the two teams this season. The Utah Jazz were coming off a 24-point loss to the Denver Nuggets. This is the first time the Warriors would get to see Donovan Mitchell, who is a contender for ROTY, and is the driving force of the Jazz offense. The Warriors were still without Stephen Curry, who is set to be reevaluated for his return on friday. The Warriors were looking to start another winning streak after their recent one was snapped by the Denver Nuggets. The Warriors went on to win the game 126-101.
The Warriors started the first quarter off hot, grabbing a quick 10-2 lead. That lead quickly dissolved on the back of some incredibly poor shooting. The Warriors ended the quarter shooting 37.5% from the field and 25% from three. The Jazz were not much better, also shooting 37.5% from the field, but they shot 40% from three. Their leading scorer was Derrick Favors with six points, four of which came on easy dunks in the paint. The Warriors’ leading scorer was Patrick McCaw, who also had six points, and was continuing to play aggressive and make plays. The poor shooting was the only real negative from the Warriors’ side in the first quarter, they even managed to keep their turnovers down, with only one in the first quarter. After the first, the Jazz led the Warriors 24-23.
In the second quarter the Warriors relied on driving to the hoop instead of perimeter shooting. In fact, they nearly abandoned the three-point shot all together, ending the half having only shot eight of them. Driving to the hoop did help the team’s shooting percentage, raising it to 45%, while Utah was still at 37%. Draymond Green had a spectacular half, leading the Warriors in scoring with 10 points, but also making the only two threes on the entire Warriors team. Kevin Durant also had 10 points. The Jazz’ leading scorer was Derrick Favors with 12 points, scoring those primarily in the paint on easy dunks. Both teams were playing very similarly throughout the half, with the Warriors managing to take a one-point lead heading into halftime thanks to a late three from Draymond Green. At the half, the Warriors led the Jazz 48-47.
The Warriors exploded in the third quarter and blew the Jazz out of the water. They had everything working, their field goal percentage rose to 55.6% overall and 43.8% from beyond the arc. Pat McCaw continued to have a good game and was as assertive and decisive as ever in the third quarter. He was electric and finished the quarter with 13 points. Kevin Durant stayed hot and his points total rose to 21 points, and he also picked up two incredible blocks. Klay hit a couple threes, Draymond threw down a nice dunk, and Jordan Bell was explosive. Everything was clicking, and the Warriors were their most explosive and fun since Stephen Curry got hurt. There wasn’t much Jazz offense to speak of as they were held to 22 points and were still shooting 39.4%. The Warriors scored 42 points in the quarter and their lead ballooned to 21 points. After the third, the Warriors led 90-61.
It has been a while since the Warriors have had a garbage time last for the entire fourth quarter, but this was nice to experience again. Sadly, Omri Casspi did roll his ankle halfway thru the quarter and had to leave the game, so garbage time was not all that great. Nick Young was scorching hot at the beginning of the quarter, and finished the game with 15 points and it seemed like he couldn’t miss for the entire quarter. Pat McCaw hit a couple more shots in the quarter en route to his career-high 18 points. JaVale McGee attempted a three and airballed it, and then shot a long-distance two and drained it. It was a fun quarter, and the Warriors won the game 126-101.
This game was interesting to say the least. The Warriors shot the ball pretty badly in the first half at 45%, and ended the game shooting nearly 60%. I credit this to the emergence of Pat McCaw as a legitimate option in offense, and the Warriors looked like themselves again. They were playing fast, and scoring in bunches, while still playing lockdown defense. They haven’t played that well on both ends since Steph went down, and it was nice to see them start to click as he nears his return.
The Warriors’ defense was just as incredible as it was on Monday against the Cavs. The Warriors blocked seven shots, picked up eight steals, and held the Jazz to just 40.2% shooting overall and 26.1% from three. The defense has been incredible and the main reason has been Kevin Durant’s emergence as an incredible 1-on-1 defender and shot blocker. He picked up another three blocks today, and is currently second in the league in blocks per game with 2.3. He also leads the league in total blocked shots. Durants presence on defense is incredibly important because it allows Steve Kerr to experiment with more lineups using Jordan Bell instead of a traditional big like Zaza Pachulia or JaVale McGee. The lineups with Bell have been far more explosive than lineups with either Zaza or JaVale, and this is the reason that JaVale is now on the trading block.
While this game was fun, and it was good to see the team explode without Steph in the lineup, but the games are still extremely boring without him and I cannot wait until he is back in the lineup.
The Warriors play their next game on Friday, December 29, at home against the Charlotte Hornets at 7:30 p.m.