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Jazz drum spiritless Warriors behind All-Star performance from Gobert

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Wednesday’s was not a slow death for the Warriors at the hands of the Jazz. It wasn’t like they were down by 30 at the blink of an eye. No, every defensive stop and every opposing basket was felt. Utah slowly and deliberately drained the life out of the Warriors, Chase Center and maybe even the city of San Francisco with a 129-96 win.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Chase Center.
It was like an episode of Dragon Ball Z, where the Jazz were Cell and the ensemble cast that is the Warriors roster took the places of Yamcha and Krillin and Tien — just helpless bit characters that are there to have their life force engulfed by the big, bad villain. Except, unlike that storyline, there was no equally powerful hero to save the day. Just a team full of Yamcha’s. Steve Kerr said the worst part of the loss was that the team didn’t show much fight:
“I think we ran into a team that’s playing about as well as anybody in the league. They’re clicking, they’re just dominating right now and they dominated us that both ends right from the beginning. And I thought we got to demoralized in the first half that was probably the biggest disappointment. I just didn’t love our energy or body language, but you know, sometimes that’s the way it goes when you when you’re struggling.”
Even the usually emotional and fiery Steve Kerr and Draymond Green were quiet. Kerr sat down from his usual standing position near the bench for much of the game, and while Green did get T’d up, it was for carelessly bouncing the ball too high, not for yelling at a ref or disagreeing with a call. That’s how you know you’ve been dominated, when even the emotional leaders can’t be bothered. Rudy Gobert spooked any Warriors player within 50 feet of the basket, and had them second-guessing even the most open of looks. Whatever the correct play to make at the rim was, Gobert’s presence made the Warriors do the exact opposite. And in the few chances that Gobert was out of his usual position anchoring the paint, the memory of it changed open layups into kickouts to blanketed shooters. Golden State’s offense is already one of the worst in the league, so adding the inability to recognize open lanes made it unwatchable. The Frenchman was just as dominant on the other end of the court, going off for 22 points and 15 rebounds to go with his three blocks, while making a strong case to be named to his first All-Star team. But he had plenty of help as everyone in a Utah uniform feasted. Bojan Bogdanovic had 18, and Donovan Mitchell effortlessly scored 23 in 22 minutes. It was the exact opposite on the home side of the box score. D’Angelo Russell went for 26, but outside of him the Warriors scoring column looked awfully empty. The other Golden State starters scored a combined 23. Kerr said that the Jazz outplayed Golden State in every aspect, but especially rebounding:
“Well, they were making every shot we were missing every shot so there were a lot more defensive rebounds for them to get than there were for us. So, that’s some of it. But they got 15 offensive rebounds too and so they just dominated, they beat us everywhere.”
Midway through the third quarter, the second-highest scorer was Eric Paschall — with a total of six. Garbage time helped Paschall, Omari Spellman and Marqueese Chriss reach double figures to make the box score look semi-respectable, but even that didn’t help much. It was an absolute whopping from the opening tip. Glenn Robinson III said that the team has to keep perspective in losses like this:
“I was talking with Klay in the fourth on the bench and he just kind of talked to e and told me that we have a lot of young guys with zero to no experience in this league. Closing out games and playing tough games and getting through the season, that is something that we have to learn and be patient with.”
The Jazz are just a really good basketball team right now, and the Warriors aren’t. That is the simple fact. And when good teams don’t play around with the Warriors, these are the kind of results that are going to happen. Kerr said the losses have the team feeling down, but the only way to get through it is to push through:
“We feel frustrated and I’m frustrated and it’s no fun losing. But you got to go out and we got another game of two days and you got to keep pushing, keep plugging away. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us especially after the last five years.”

Up Next

The Warriors will end their long run of 12 straight games on one-day’s rest Friday when they take on the visiting Indiana Pacers. They’ll have a lengthy four days off before they travel to Philadelphia to start a five-game road trip.

Notes

Draymond Green, Glenn Robinson III and Jacob Evans returned to the court for the first time in two, two and three games respectively. Green has been absent with flu-like symptoms while Robinson had an ankle injury and Evans had a broken nose and concussion.
Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.
Curtis Uemura

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