SALT LAKE CITY — Spirits were high inside the Utah Jazz locker room after Wednesday’s much-needed 108-103 victory against the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Even after a dismal 5-for-26 shooting performance, Donovan Mitchell was cracking jokes in his stall next to Rudy Gobert.
Veteran Thabo Sefolosha embraced his South African roots by sporting Impala fur around his headband with an African-themed sweatsuit, while Kyle Korver and Derrick Favors bonded over an icing session.
Although Utah’s offense continued to struggle, shooting 39.8 percent from the field, Jazz coach Quin Snyder praised the team defense for holding the Warriors to 40 percent — and 32.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Golden State entered the game with the league’s top field goal percentage (48.6), so that’s certainly an accomplishment, although it wasn’t the prettiest performance of the season.
Utah also snapped its two-game losing streak in the process.
“Obviously, it’s no mystery that you don’t want to give those guys open looks and open jump shots,” Snyder said. “I thought our urgency, Rudy (Gobert) getting out to Steph (Curry) in the corner late … We had a couple situations where guys were alert, were aware and helped each other.”
Gobert recorded his 26th double-double of the year, finishing with 17 points and 15 rebounds while tying a season-high of four blocks. As a team, the Jazz dished out 30 assists. Moving the ball and defending is the way they aim to play every night, but it hasn’t always worked out that way.
“Guys did a remarkable job being physical, respecting the game plan,” Gobert said. “We know it’s the best-shooting team in the league and we did a good job tonight.”
Jae Crowder, Joe Ingles and Korver came up big at the end of the third quarter as they helped the Jazz nail six consecutive triples. Then in the fourth, the Jazz would hold on after an Andre Iguodala missed 3-point attempt and a Curry turnover in the waning seconds.
Crowder ended with 18 points and 11 boards with five treys off the bench, and Korver added 12 points with four assists and four 3s. Ingles scored a game-high 20 points, grabbed three rebounds, had three assists and two steals, while going 4-for-9 from 3.
With Mitchell struggling — he scored 17 points on 26 shots — the rest of the team picked up the slack. His defensive effort wasn’t an issue though, as guys kept encouraging him.
“I don’t care what he shoots, he can go 1 for 100 or 100 for 100, that’s why it’s a team game,” Ingles said. “It’s obviously four of us out there and 14 other guys on the team so we want him to be aggressive and we want him to take the shots that he’s taking. But if he’s confident with whatever shot it is, we want him to take it and we’re going to support him 100 percent.”
Mitchell claimed he was headed to the practice facility to put in extra work on his shot after the game, but wasn’t disappointed in the team result. In addition to his six assists and five rebounds, Mitchell also committed six turnovers, but never wavered on the defensive end.
“It’s over. I don’t even care no more. I’m over it,” Mitchell said of the shooting performance. “The fact that I had six assists is what I’m happy with. At the end of the day, I tried my best to take certain shots, it just didn’t fall.”
Curry led the way for the Warriors with a game-high 32 points, with 18 coming in the second quarter. Kevin Durant also passed Gary Payton for 32nd on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (23,813 points) with 30 points and seven boards on 10-for-23 shooting.3 comments on this story
With the victory, Utah also got revenge for Golden State’s last-second 124-123 win on Oct. 19 at Vivint Arena, where former Jazzman Jonas Jerebko tipped in the game-winning shot. The Jazz are now headed to Portland on Friday before returning home for a back-to-back on Saturday versus Oklahoma City.
The celebration for beating the Warriors certainly won’t be long-lasting.
“For us to go out and beat them it was big time, but we have to have the same energy when we play Portland,” Mitchell said.