What we learned as Splash Bros power Warriors' pivotal win over Jazz


What we learned as Splash Bros power Warriors’ pivotal win over Jazz originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Klay Thompson has tried to stay positive during a mostly frustrating 2023-24 NBA season, and in Utah on Monday night, the five-time All-Star and Warriors legend certainly had the good vibes going in a 129-107 victory over the Jazz.

Thompson scored a game-high 26 points on 11 of 19 shooting to help Golden State (26-25) win its fifth straight in a game between two teams vying for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.

Stephen Curry’s shooting touch cooled off a little, but he still finished with 25 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. Draymond Green had 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists against the Jazz (26-28).

Andrew Wiggins added 17 points, Jonathan Kuminga reached double figures for his 31st consecutive game and scored 14 while rookie Brandin Podziemski (10 points) and Gary Payton II (11 points) provided boosts off the bench. Podziemski also drew his NBA-leading 24th charging foul.

Kevon Looney played in his 500th career game, the 20th player in franchise history to reach that plateau.

This was the first time the Warriors have been over .500 since Dec. 23, when they were 15-14 following a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Golden State pulled within a half game of the idle Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 9 spot in the West. The Warriors also moved 1.5 games up on the Jazz, who remain at No. 10.

The game marked the Warriors’ first trip to Utah since the sudden death of assistant coach Dejan Milojević, who suffered a heart attack while attending a team dinner and passed away the following day on Jan. 17.

Golden state coach Steve Kerr, along with other members of his coaching staff and the team’s front office, were attending a memorial service in Serbia for Milojević and were not in Utah for the game. Kenny Atkinson coached the Warriors in Kerr’s absence.

Here are the takeaways from Monday’s game in Salt Lake City:

Splashing overcomes size

Utah’s size made it difficult for the Warriors to get much going near the rim most of the evening. Rather than trying to force the issue, Golden State countered the disadvantage by getting its transition offense flowing somewhat and shooting well from 3-point range.

The Warriors scored 22 fastbreak points compared to 18 for the Jazz. Golden State also made some noise beyond the arc, nailing 20 of its 44 threes.

Curry, the NBA’s all-time 3-point king, led the charge with seven. Over his last three games Curry has made 27 of his 3-point attempts.

Unlike the previous few games when Curry was only Golden State player to really get going from deep, he had plenty of help in Utah. Seven different players made at least one 3-pointer.

Šarić’s struggles

Dario Šarić’s playing time has been significantly reduced over the past week, and Monday’s game was a perfect example why.

The 6-foot-10 Šarić is at his best when he can draw opposing big men out of the paint and shoot a 3-pointer. He was shooting a career-high 41.3 percent from deep going into the day, second-highest among any Warriors player who has played in 26 games or more.

Against the Jazz, however, Šarić was mostly silent. He missed all three shots he attempted, including two 3-pointers, and was held scoreless. Given his defensive limitations, that’s not going to earn the 29-year-old much time. Šarić logged just over 11 minutes on Monday

The Draymond Effect

It has been well-chronicled how much Green’s return from his second NBA suspension this season has impacted the Warriors and helped get the season back on track. As Curry repeatedly has pointed out, Golden State is a different team when Green is on the court doing what he does.

Green’s impact was somewhat limited in Utah due to foul trouble. He was hit with three fouls in the first six minutes of the first quarter, which resulted in a trip to the bench where Green remained for more than a full quarter of playing time.

When he came back, Green provided a big lift when he launched a running 3-pointer from just inside the midcourt logo as the buzzer sounded. After Monday’s win, the Warriors now are 130-28 when Green makes multiple threes.

To the Warriors’ credit, they kept it together while Green was out. They were up 14-11 when Green was hit with his third foul and were tied at 43-43 when he came back.

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