The rematch of the NBA Finals on Christmas is upon us. But first, the Golden State Warriors had to take care of business on Wednesday night.
Klay Thompson scored 20 points, Stephen Curry added 16 and the Warriors escaped the ultimate trap game with a 103-85 victory over the Utah Jazz. Draymond Green had 15 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. Andrew Bogut added 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Golden State improved to 27-1 on the season. The Warriors are 13-0 at Oracle Arena this season and have won 31 straight regular-season home games.
Derrick Favors led Utah (12-15) with 17 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Rodney Hood had 15 points and three assists. Trey Burke and Alec Burks both scored 13 points off the bench. Gordon Hayward had a forgettable night, finishing with just eight points on 2-of-15 shooting.
Golden State had not played since last Friday and it showed on offense in the first quarter. The Warriors shot 45 percent from the field and committed seven turnovers. But the defense held Utah to 6-of-23 shooting (26.1 percent), blocked five shots and turned seven turnovers into 11 points. Golden State led by 10 at the end of the opening quarter.
“Our communication and our effort level was more of what we are accustomed to from our players,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said.
Andre Iguodala opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer to extend the advantage to 13. But the second unit promptly gave up a 14-4 run and the lead was down to three. Walton quickly reinserted Thompson, with Green, Curry and Bogut not far behind. The Warriors reestablished the stifling defense and held Utah scoreless for over four minutes to take a 14-point lead with a little over two minutes left. It was a nine-point game at halftime.
The Jazz scored the first four points in the second half to trail by just five, but the Warriors countered with a game-deciding 18-7 run to take a 16-point lead with 2:40 left. Utah never got closer than 10 points for the rest of the game.
It was Curry’s lowest scoring output of the season. He was 5-of-14 from the field and 2-of-8 from 3-point range. Curry also got kneed in the right calf when he was fouled late in the third quarter, but persuaded Walton to leave him in the game.
“I was going to sit him for the rest of the fourth (quarter), but he swore to me that he was fine,” Walton said. “He just got kneed in the calf and that he was good to go back in.”
Now all the attention will be placed on Friday’s matchup with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers are 19-7 on the season and will be coming into Oracle on a six-game winning streak.
“It’s going to be a big game,” Bogut said. “We know it’s huge for them to come here. We are undefeated at home and with our record. They obviously want to make a statement to us. We want to do the same. So I anticipate it being one of the classics that hopefully we can all watch in 10 or 15 years.”
Green, though, took a more laid-back approach to the game.
“We’ll either finished that game 28-1,” Green said. “Or 27-2.”
Harrison Barnes missed his 11th straight game for Golden State with a sprained left knee. Utah played without two of its young up-and-coming stars in Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum. Gobert is out indefinitely with a Grade II MCL sprain in his left knee. There is still no timetable for the return of Exum, who is rehabbing from a torn left ACL suffered while playing for the Australian National Team during the summer.
2015-16 Golden State Warriors 27-1
1995-96 Chicago Bulls 25-3