One team seeking a winning streak encounters one attempting to avoid another losing skid when the Utah Jazz host the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
The game is a rematch of Utah’s 122-108 win at Golden State earlier this month, a contest thoroughly dominated by the visitors.
That was part of a season-best four-game win streak for the Jazz, who have gone just 1-2 since.
The Jazz are coming off a split with Minnesota in a home-and-home series, with the Timberwolves winning 112-102 at Utah on Monday before the Jazz extracted a measure of revenge in a 103-95 road triumph two nights later.
Monday’s loss was Utah’s first in seven home games this season.
One thing Utah did not do well in its win at Golden State on Nov. 11 was prevent fast-break baskets. The Warriors outscored the Jazz 20-4 on such hoops.
It’s been a point of emphasis for Jazz coach Quin Snyder this week, and clearly he has his guys’ attention. Utah allowed Minnesota just eight fast-break points in each of the back-to-back meetings.
“Usually when teams go on runs, it’s transition defense,” Snyder explained to reporters. “It starts with the urgency to get back.”
One of the driving forces in Golden State’s running game the first time around against Utah, D’Angelo Russell has since sprained his right thumb and is out of action. He had a game-high 33 points in the loss.
Coming off a win at Memphis on Tuesday that snapped a seven-game losing streak, the Warriors were down to eight healthy bodies in Wednesday’s 142-94 shellacking at Dallas — the most lopsided Golden State defeat since 1973.
They are likely to get back Draymond Green, who sat out the second night of a back-to-back, for the Utah game, as well as what coach Steve Kerr hopes will be a fresh state of mind.
Kerr tried humor to soothe a painful experience.
“Tough to lose by 48 points,” he noted at his media session after the game, “but a break here or there and it only would have been 42 points. Nobody caught the sarcasm? I was trying to be funny.
“Flush it down the toilet. Literally just move on. You don’t take anything from a game like this.”
What the Warriors took from the earlier Utah game was that the Jazz are an improved offensive team with Mike Conley at the controls.
The former Memphis Grizzlies standout had 22 points in the win, and also led an offense that shot 49.4 percent overall, made 16 3-pointers and outscored Golden State 26-8 at the free-throw line.
Such numbers have been the norm for Golden State this season. The NBA’s losingest team has allowed 14 of its 16 opponents to score 105 or more points.
Surprisingly the Jazz, perennially strong on defense, allowed 100-plus points in eight straight games prior to Wednesday. Golden State’s 108 total during that stretch came on 47.9 percent shooting.
The Warriors are expecting to get Kevon Looney back from a neuropathy issue and see rookie Alen Smailagic, finally over an ankle injury, make his NBA debut when they return home from their current four-game trip that concludes in Utah.
–Field Level Media