Hopefully being in these types of games at this time of year is something that can season us. —Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
OAKLAND, Calif. — As entertaining and impressive as Friday’s comeback and Donovan Mitchell’s end-of-game heroics were for the Utah Jazz, the 124-120 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs was equally painful.
“We have to be proud the way we were playing,” Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio said, “but we’re going to have to be upset that we didn’t leave with a win.”
The loss — snapping a 12-game winning streak on the road — dropped Utah (41-32) into sole possession of the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoff race. Denver (40-33) is just one game back with nine remaining.
And it doesn’t get any easier for the Jazz, who face Golden State at Oracle Arena on Sunday night and still have challenging matchups remaining with Boston, Minnesota, the Clippers, the improved Lakers (twice), the Blazers and the Warriors (in Utah), along with a home game vs. Memphis.
“Every night is a new challenge,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said.
Mitchell also used the word upset to describe how he felt after the Jazz came up short despite him forcing overtime by hitting two 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds of regulation and finishing with 35 points.
“We competed, though, that’s the biggest thing is that we did compete and the effort is there,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes, games like this just don’t go your way.”
While he admitted that this loss stings, Jazz coach Quin Snyder believes the experience is good for the team as it jockeys for a playoff position.
“Obviously you want to win, but there’s no shame in losing this game the way that we played and competed,” Snyder said. “Were there some things we needed to do better? Yeah, we needed to defensive rebound down the stretch, so we’ll look at those things and try to get better.
“But,” he added, “hopefully being in these types of games at this time of year is something that can season us.”
Utah has another seasoning opportunity on the road against the Warriors, who are still formidable despite being shorthanded.
On Saturday, the Warriors announced that star guard Stephen Curry will be out for the rest of the regular season — and perhaps into the playoffs — because of a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee. Curry will be re-evaluated in three weeks, about when the postseason begins, after injuring his knee in Friday's win over Atlanta.
Kevin Durant (right rib soreness) and Klay Thompson (fractured right thumb) are also out.
Golden State did announce that Draymond Green, who’s been dealing with a pelvic contusion, will play against Utah. Shaun Livingston (groin strain), Nick Young (right knee contusion) and Patrick McCraw (low back contusion) are probable, while Omri Casspi (sprained right ankle) is doubtful for the Warriors.
Other than that, the W’s are perfectly healthy.
Utah crushed the Warriors, 129-99, the last time the two teams played. That happened at the beginning of the Jazz’s two-month hot streak, which has resulted in the team going from a lottery-bound 19-28 to right in the thick of the uber-competitive Western Conference playoff battle.
As they showed Friday, the Jazz are consistently more competitive now with Gobert, Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder giving solid frontcourt minutes and Mitchell, Rubio and Joe Ingles providing explosiveness and steady defense on the backcourt.
“I think we can feel good about that,” Snyder said of competing against the Spurs. “It’s hard right after the game to take solace in anything because you feel like when you do compete that hard it hurts when you lose. This is a high-level game and it’s good for us to be in these games.”
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