SALT LAKE CITY — On a night when the Utah Jazz and their fans honored Jerry Sloan, one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, this year's youthful Jazz ballclub couldn't quite go out and do what Coach Sloan's teams did so well for so many seasons: find a way to win.
Golden State rode a superb performance from hot-shooting guard Stephen Curry to a 95-90 victory over the Jazz on Friday night at EnergySolutions Arena, where a banner honoring Sloan and his 1,223 career coaching victories in Utah was raised to the ESA rafters during a halftime ceremony in which an appreciative sellout crowd of 19,911 roared its approval.
Curry, whose dad Dell was a first-round draft choice of the Jazz when Sloan was an assistant coach for Utah in 1986, poured in 44 points on 14-of-26 shooting, including 8-of-13 from 3-point range. He was also 8-of-9 from the foul line, and it was his floater with 2:02 remaining that put the Warriors ahead for good, 89-88, on the way to their third victory over the Jazz this season.
"Curry's a load," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said of the Golden State guard, who scored 30 of his points in the second half, including 13 in the decisive fourth quarter. "He got hot. He was shooting it from deep. He would come down in transition, guys running at him, and he was still making them.
"We tried to double him, we gave him different looks, and we were chasing him off screens. He's a great shooter in this league. We knew he would be capable. We had to give him some different looks. He just made some tough shots."
Andrew Bogut, the former University of Utah star, added 16 points, pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds and even handed out a team-high five assists for the Warriors (29-19).
"I just let the game come to me," Bogut said. "I got some open looks from Steph because he was on fire out there. Thankfully I made them tonight.
"We won this game defensively in the fourth quarter, in my opinion. ... Steph was shooting the lights out. He basically carried us offensively."
Klay Thompson managed 11 points despite a dreadful 3-of-20 shooting night from the field for Golden State, which won despite shooting just 37.5 percent (33-of-88) from the field.
"The guys, I challenged them," said Golden State coach Mark Jackson, who spent one season of his playing career in a Jazz uniform. "The good teams, they play their best after they play their best. Not too many teams do that. And the challenge was for us to respond after a big win against the Clippers and put forth the same type of energy and effort.
"I thought the second half was great. Boges (Bogut) was spectacular. Draymond (Green) gave us great minutes. Steph (Curry) was obviously Steph.
"But just overall, a big-time win for us against a team that has certainly played better than they had played to start the season," he said. "... We gutted out a big win."
Alec Burks wound up with a team-leading 26 points for the Jazz, but after carrying them on his shoulders for much of the night, he missed a couple of shots in the final minute and a half with Utah desperately needing a basket.
"It's tough," Burks said of the disappointing defeat. "We got down a few players and with Jeremy (Evans) getting hurt, but we fought hard.
"He's an All-Star starter for a reason," he said of Curry's big night.
Enes Kanter added 15 points and seven rebounds, and Diante Garrett, who came in averaging just 3.1 points per game, scored an NBA career-best 13 for a short-handed Jazz team that was missing customary starters Derrick Favors and Marvin Williams.
"There was a lot of energy out there even though we didn't have everyone that we needed," Garrett said. "A lot of guys stepped up and helped out. It was different because it was a packed house and gave everyone a push to go hard.
"Coach wants me to be aggressive and make plays, and that's what I had in my mind."
Jeremy Evans scored 10 first-half points before taking a tumble and bruising his tailbone and elbow late in the second quarter. He did not return. Utah's starting guards, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke, both had subpar shooting nights, combining for 5-of-20 shooting from the field for the Jazz (16-30), which saw their modest two-game winning streak snapped.
Bogut and Curry were both complimentary of how tough it is to beat the Jazz — especially at ESA.
"They battled hard," Bogut said. "They are not having a great season record-wise, but they are battling and shuffling the lineup. They have guys out there playing hard."
"They are a different team at home," Curry said of the Jazz. "Obviously their record is what it is, but they are an NBA team and they are talented."
And while this victory belonged to the Warriors, the night belonged to Sloan.
Several of his former players — including Jazz legends John Stockton and Karl Malone, along with Mark Eaton, Thurl "Big T" Bailey (who nailed the national anthem), Matt Harpring, Bryon Russell, Howard Eisley and John Crotty — were on hand for "Jerry Sloan Banner Night."
So were team owner Gail Miller, Sloan's predecessor and former boss Frank Layden, longtime assistant coach Phil Johnson, longtime play-by-play announcer Hot Rod Hundley and so many others who paid tribute, either in person or on the giant video screen overhead, to a fiercely competitive guy who served as the Jazz head coach for 23 years — from 1988 to 2011.
With Curry and Bogut doing the damage — Curry scored 11 quick points and Bogut had the other six — the Warriors moved out to a nine-point lead, 17-9, in the first quarter.
But Evans brought the Jazz back within 23-21 at the end of the opening period, and then Burks and Garrett took over in the second quarter, combining for 18 points as Utah overtook the Warriors in the late stages of the first half.
With Golden State clinging to a 38-35 lead, Garrett scored nine points in a 13-3 spurt to close the half, as Garrett's buzzer-beating jumper boosted the Jazz to a 48-41 halftime lead.
Utah continued to hold onto a narrow lead and maintained a 71-66 margin on Garrett's fadeaway jumper that barely beat the buzzer to end the third quarter. But with Utah leading by nine points, 77-68, Golden State staged a 12-0 run to take an 80-77 lead.
The Jazz stayed within striking distance and took their last lead, 88-87, when Burke fed Burks for a layup with 2:18 remaining. But 16 seconds later, Curry's short shot put the Warriors ahead to stay, 89-88, as missed shots and turnovers doomed Utah down the stretch.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company