Warriors, Jazz hampered by issues heading into key game
Stephen Curry will be riding the moment of one of his career highlights Sunday night when the Golden State Warriors host the Utah Jazz in a battle of Western Conference heavyweights.
The game tips off a rugged stretch for both teams as they attempt to turn things around after a rough patch of late.
Curry connected on his first career walk-off game-winner Friday night for a 105-103 home win over the Houston Rockets. The game-winner was the eighth of his career, but first with the clock having expired before the shot cleared the net.
“It’s just how the game goes,” Curry said. “I’ve hit some shots with 0.1, 0.4, one second, whatever it is. Big shots. But it’s a different feeling when it’s a walk-off. It’s good to know what that feels like finally.”
The shot came at the end of a game in which Curry shot just 6-for-21. He has made just 36.3 percent of his shots in his last nine games, including just 28 of 92 3-pointers (30.4 percent).
It’s been contagious.
The Warriors, once rated as the top offensive team in the league in terms of efficiency, have ranked just 26th in the league in scoring (104.2), 27th in field goal percentage (43.0) and dead-last in 3-point field goal percentage (30.1) over their last 10 games.
They’ve gone just 4-6 over that span after a 29-7 start, and now face a week in which they must deal with a tough four-game sequence book-ended by Utah and the Brooklyn Nets.
Draymond Green, an offensive catalyst with a team-high 7.4 assists per game, has missed the last seven with a disk issue in his back. He already has been ruled out through Feb. 1.
The Jazz have won just twice in their last eight games, but with different issues than the Warriors. They have allowed the 12th-most points (113.0), the seventh-highest field goal percentage (47.2) and the third-highest 3-point field goal percentage (38.4) during the skid.
Injuries also have played a role in Utah’s recent regression.
Leading scorer Donovan Mitchell has sat out the last two games with a concussion, leading rebounder Rudy Gobert missed five straight recently with a sore left ankle, and second-leading rebounder Hassan Whiteside has been sidelined the last five games in COVID protocol.
Like the Warriors, Utah is coming off a win Friday night. The Jazz ended a two-game losing streak — one that included a home loss to the Rockets — with a 111-101 win over the Detroit Pistons.
Gobert quickly identified the difference: Energy level.
“We competed,” he said. “One through five, everyone who came in the game, from the starters to the bench, everyone was playing with intensity. I thought we raised our level throughout the game.”
The Jazz hope to have Mitchell back as early as Sunday as they prepare to duel the Warriors, the Phoenix Suns twice and the Memphis Grizzlies in the next six days.
The Warriors and Jazz met one time previously this season, with Golden State overcoming a 41-point Utah explosion in the third quarter to pull out a 123-116 road win.
Curry connected on six of his 12 3-point shots on a night when the Warriors shot 53.5 percent overall and 53.1 percent (17-for-32) from beyond the arc.
Gobert had 20 points and 19 rebounds in the loss.
–Field Level Media