OAKLAND (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz hung with the mighty Golden State Warriors for a half. But then the NBA champs turned on the gas, and left the Jazz in the dust.
The Warriors outscored the Jazz in the third quarter, 42-22, to blow open a close game on their way to a 126-101 victory.
The loss was Utah’s third in a row, and 10th in their last 12 games.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder wasn’t surprised by the way Golden State came out after halftime.
”They’re the best team in the league in the third quarter,” he said. ”We didn’t turn it over, but we had some breakdowns. They’re a team, if you make a mistake they’ll make you pay.”
”I thought the defense in the third quarter was tremendous, triggered our offense,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. ”There was a different energy in the building in the second half.”
Rodney Hood led the Jazz with 26 points off the bench, while Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors each added 17.
Kevin Durant scored 21 points, Draymond Green flirted with his second straight triple-double as the Warriors won for the 13th time in 14 games.
The game was the 10th straight the defending NBA champs played without two-time MVP Stephen Curry, sidelined by a sprained right ankle.
The team redefined itself, Kerr said, and won nine of them.
”I love what we’ve become, morphing into this defensive juggernaut,” he said.
Durant, who blocked three shots and has swatted at least two in 10 straight games, said the team knew life would be different without Curry. But the Warriors held teams to an average of 95.2 points during the stretch.
”Defensively is where we kind of knuckled down because we knew offense was going to be a little tougher,” Durant said.
Durant also said he expects Curry to be back soon. He is scheduled to scrimmage 5-on-5 on Thursday and will be evaluated Friday before the Warriors’ game against Charlotte.
”I see the look in his eyes and I know he’s ready to play,” Durant said.
The game was the first between the teams since the Warriors’ four-game playoff sweep in the Western Conference semifinals last spring, winning each game by double digits.
Green finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in three quarters, two nights after tying the franchise career record with his 20th triple-double. Patrick McCaw added 18 points.
The Warriors’ 42-22 margin in the quarter marked the fifth time this season they have outscored an opponent by at least 20 points in the third period.
The Jazz (15-21) next host Cleveland December 30th.