Warriors come up short in comeback attempt against Jazz 113-109
SALT LAKE CITY — The Warriors are biding their time, because that’s all they can do.
Having concluded a four-game trip with only eight healthy players and a 113-109 loss to the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the Warriors (3-14) lost for the ninth time in the last 10 games. The bright side: the Warriors showed some fight late, and will return home to potential reinforcements.
Forward Draymond Green started the trip with the team but returned to the Bay Area to deal with a sore right heel that sidelined him for the final two road games, both losses.
Without Green, a defense that seemed to have been turning a corner took a step back. In the two games without the former defensive player of the year award winner, the Warriors allowed their opponents to shoot 56.7% and 50.6%.
On offense, the fact that no one could get going offensively until late in the game underscored the short bench. With only eight players available, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was forced to ride out all 48 minutes without a player shouldering the scoring load — something this team will need as long as they are missing guard D’Angelo Russell (thumb).
Guard Alec Burks, who played the first eight seasons of his career in Utah, was greeted by a chorus of cheers after being introduced by the PA announcer as “former Jazzman Alec Burks.” Burks provided a brief spark, scoring nine points in the first quarter.
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell ended the first quarter with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, which he followed up by staring down his best friend Eric Paschall, to give the Jazz a 30-28 lead.
The Jazz (10-5) used a 16-4 run to open a 17-point lead in the second quarter. By the third quarter, that lead ballooned to 21 points. With no one to generate the offense and a disorganized defense tired after the longest trip of the season, it was ultimately too big a hole for the Warriors to dig out of, despite making a late comeback.
With less than three minutes left in the game, forward Omari Spellman’s 3-pointer followed by Burks’ assist to center Willie Cauley-Stein on the pick-and-roll cut Utah’s lead to five with 2:19 left in the game. Then, two-way contract guard Ky Bowman stripped Jazz guard Mike Conley at half-court and finished with a dunk in transition. Conley answered with a 3-pointer to extend the lead. Back-to-back scores by Burks cut Utah’s lead to four with less than a minute left. On the next possession, Glenn Robinson III recovered a long rebound off Mitchell’s deep 3-point attempt and dunked to cut the lead to two with 17.2 seconds remaining.
After a Burks foul to stop the clock, Conley split his free throws. With the Warriors down three with 16.7 seconds remaining, Burks used a screen, drove right and attempted a contested layup with 10 seconds left. It clanged off the bottom of the rim, ending the Warriors’ chances of a comeback.
Burks finished with 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting, six rebounds and three assists in 35 minutes. Bowman and Robinson each chipped in 17 points while Spellman recorded 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range.
The Jazz were led by its backcourt, with Mitchell scoring 30 points and Conley finishing with 27. Center Rudy Gobert had eight points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks.
While the late run was commendable, large deficits continue to dog this Warriors team. By the middle of next week, they could have as many as 12 players available. With both Green and center Kevon Looney (neuropathy) on track to return Monday, guard Damion Lee (hand) and center Alen Smailagic (ankle) could return as soon as Wednesday.
The Warriors will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, possibly with a deeper bench, improved defense and larger margin for error.