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.
The Jazz, already dealing with injuries of varying severity with Mehmet Okur, Jeremy Evans and Paul Millsap, received another scare on the health front in the second quarter.
C.J. Miles crumpled hard to the court, rolling in agony while clutching his right ankle. The sixth man was helped off the court by trainers and walked slowly and gingerly to the bench, having rolled the same ankle he sprained two weeks earlier in a preseason game.
Fortunately for the Jazz, Miles was re-taped and returned to score seven of his 12 points.
"It just hurt so bad right in the beginning because it was the same ankle, and it just hit me real hard," Miles said. "I was able to walk it off. ... I'm fine. It's nothing I can't play with, so I'll be fine."
The Jazz will return home tonight for a GameNight showdown with Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers. Utah, of course, hopes to fare better in this back-to-back than it did the first week of the season when it lost in consecutive nights on the road and at home.
Williams said the Jazz, who are still trying to work all the kinks out, "just need to get a win" at home tonight.
"We keep saying it's not going to come over night," he said. "We're going to have good stretches, we're going to have bad stretches. Tonight was a bad game."
And he was particularly down on his own play.
"It's frustrating, because I feel like I should be playing better," the All-Star said. "And if I play better, the team's going to play better, so I've got to do a better job of that."
Williams led the Jazz with 23 points, but he had more turnovers (eight) than assists (six).
Al Jefferson (16 points, 15 rebounds) and Paul Millsap (12 points, 11 rebounds) each racked up double-doubles, but on this night it wasn't enough to overcome the Jazz's 39.5 percent shooting.
"They made the plays, we didn't," Williams said. "We got back in it, fought to get it back tied, and it just kind of went downhill from there."
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