OAKLAND, Calif. — If Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors players had worn pads Friday night, clips from their game might've been replayed on that little football program that's taking up parking spots today at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Played next-door to the Raiders' Coliseum, this one was physical, gritty, and ugly defensive slugfest.
It certainly featured a final score — Golden State 85, Utah 78 — that more closely resembled a college pigskin game than what you would've expected from these two high-powered NBA squads. Both teams were held more than 24 points under their average.
Though their crafty and quick guards made flashy moves down the stretch to win the game for the Warriors, the blame or credit, depending on your view, for the style of play goes to the Warriors' hard-working, pound-the-pavement pair of big men.
Seven-footer Andris Biedrins hauled in a whopping 20 rebounds and Golden State's offseason power forward addition, 6-9 David Lee, hauled in 15 boards to help set the physical tone in this one.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan credited Golden State's dominating rebounding and defense for being the difference in the game. The Warriors finished with 21 offensive rebounds, leading to 26 second-chance points.
"Their defense was good and they were tough," Sloan said. "When you have (19) turnovers and you give up (26) points, that's a goodbye kiss."
Utah, meanwhile, only had 10 offensive rebounds and eight second-chance points.
"They killed us on the offensive boards," Sloan said.
Overall, Golden State crashed the glass for a 52-46 rebounding edge.
"They came, they wanted the game," Sloan said. "They went after it. That's why they got the offensive rebounds. That's why they beat us a couple of times on the dribble going to the basket."
Ah, yes, that.
To the Jazz's credit, they clawed back from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie it up at 72-all on a Raja Bell layup with three minutes left.
But then Stephen Curry happened. A lot.
The second-year guard and son of former Jazz player Dell Curry followed his jumper with what effectively amounted to being the play of the game.
Curry picked Al Jefferson's pocket down low, sprinted down the court, even on a hobbled ankle, deftly spun around Andrei Kirilenko and then scooped a layup just past the outstretched hand of Paul Millsap.
An ensuing made free throw gave Golden State a 77-72 lead and the momentum.
Curry finished with 20 points and teamed up in the backcourt with Monta Ellis (23 points) to give the Jazz fits all night.
"Curry made the play that really hurt us," Sloan said.
The Warriors' game-time decision to play Curry on his sprained ankle that kept him out of the past two games paid off.
"Everybody knows who he is. He's not a secret. He's a terrific young player," Sloan added. "We were still there in the ballgame, we just couldn't get anything to go down. Their defense was good, and it made it tough."
As it did during recent victories, Utah got off to an early lead. The Jazz jumped ahead 6-0 before Golden State, which trails only the Los Angeles Lakers in scoring this season, lit up the scoreboard. Soon, though, the Warriors had a 15-10 lead.
The Warriors led by one at halftime, and the two teams slugged it out until Golden State outbattled Utah down the stretch.
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