Nearly two months on, Utah Jazz players hadn’t forgotten the embarrassing double-digit loss they suffered at home to Golden State.
They evened the score Tuesday night with a 115-101 victory over the Warriors.
”Everyone kept saying, `We owed them,”’ guard Paul Foye said of a spirited Monday night practice session. ”Tonight we came out and had a different swag about us. . We wanted to show them they’re not going to walk over us this time.”
Al Jefferson scored 24 points, Gordon Hayward added 17 in his return from a shoulder injury and the Jazz never trailed in extending the Warriors’ losing streak to six games.
Seven Jazz players scored in double figures and Utah got 47 points from its reserves.
Utah also made 10 of 21 3-pointers, including three by Foye, who finished with 15 points.
The Jazz viewed the win as a double-victory considering they entered the night with as many wins but two more losses than the Warriors. Golden State (30-23) remains percentage points ahead of the Jazz (31-24) for sixth place in the Western Conference playoff race. The teams play once more, in April.
The Warriors were hoping the All-Star break would refresh them after they dropped five straight to ruin a strong start to the season.
Despite what coach Mark Jackson said was a sharp practice the night before, the Warriors had the same defensive struggles during a skid that saw them allow opponents 118 points a game on 49 percent shooting and 43 percent from 3-point range.
”It is another uncharacteristic performance by us,” Jackson said. ”We have to find ourselves.”
He insisted it wasn’t time to give up.
”I am not going to jump off this ship,” Jackson said. ”I believe in my guys . but we have to find five guys on the floor that are going to scratch, claw and compete because history tells me that the only way out of a funk like this is working our way out of it.”
Stephen Curry led Golden State with 29 points, Jarrett Jack had 19 off the bench and David Lee contributed 18 on 9-of-13 shooting. Center Andrew Bogut was held scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting in 15 minutes.
Lee’s runner and Curry’s fourth 3-pointer pulled the Warriors within 93-87 with 9:47 remaining.
That’s as close as they would get.
Paul Millsap’s turnaround jumper ignited a 6-0 Utah run and the Jazz held the Warriors to 30 percent shooting in the fourth.
Utah has won three straight and seven of its last 10.
The Jazz got a big lift Tuesday from the return of Hayward. Their playmaker had missed the past 10 games with a right shoulder injury.
Hayward hardly looked rusty, hitting 5 of 9 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, to finish with 17 points in 25 minutes off the bench.
It didn’t take long for his right shoulder to get a test.
He checked into the game with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter to loud applause. Two minutes later, he drove the lane and took a shot to the same shoulder from Andris Biedrins.
”It was good as far as realizing it would be fine if I took a hit,” said Hayward, who has been Utah’s third-leading scorer this season at 13.5 points a game. ”It stung a little bit. But I stepped up and knocked down two free throws and moved on from there.”
Jefferson said the Jazz now just need to get starting point Mo Williams back after he had thumb surgery in early January.
”Then I just think we keep rolling,” Jefferson said.
The question is whether Jefferson and Millsap will be around to see the playoff run play out.
Both are unrestricted free agents after this season and have been the subject of trade rumors heading into Thursday’s deadline.
”My name has been in trade rumors ever since my second year in Boston when they were trying to trade me for Allen Iverson,” Jefferson said. ”That was the rumor. Nothing happened then. Nothing ever happens. This year is going to be no different for me as far as focus. I will continue to stay focused and do my job.”
Millsap made 4 of 4 from the line and also grabbed nine rebounds.
If Tuesday was his last game in a Jazz uniform, he wasn’t distracted.
”Our team is good that we have now,” he said. ”These are rumors. That’s what rumors are. Who knows who started them? Our job is to get out there and win games no matter who’s here.”
Notes: Utah assistant Sidney Lowe was on the Jazz bench, coaching his first game since being arrested over the weekend in North Carolina for failing to file his state income tax returns for 2009, 2010, 2011. The team is referring all legal questions to Lowe’s attorney, but coach Tyrone Corbin said,” We support him wholeheartedly. He understands and has taken responsibility for where he is in it. We’ll support him and move on.” … Corbin wouldn’t talk specifics about Thursday’s trade deadline, but said, ”I love everybody on this team. Love what these guys bring, love how they stayed focused and try to get better. … These are Utah Jazz kind of guys.”