OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) After another weird week in a season full of drama, the Golden State Warriors figured winning was the best way to quiet the growing chatter surrounding coach Mark Jackson’s job.
Klay Thompson scored 33 points, Stephen Curry played through an illness to finish with 31 points and 16 assists, and the Warriors rolled past the Utah Jazz 130-102 Sunday night to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race.
”If you pay attention to the chatter, then you lose sight of what’s taking place,” Jackson said. ”If it was great noise around here, our chatter is irrelevant. The numbers speak for themselves.”
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The Warriors (48-29) eclipsed last season’s win total and moved 19 games over .500 for the first time in 20 years. Golden State remains 1 1/2 games behind fifth-place Portland and 1 1/2 games ahead of seventh-place Dallas in the crammed conference standings.
Even in the midst of the franchise’s best season in two decades, not everything has gone smoothly for the Bay Area’s beloved basketball team – or its coach.
The Warriors have parted ways with two of Jackson’s assistant coaches in less than two weeks. They fired Darren Erman on Saturday for what the team called ”a violation of company policy,” and Jackson reassigned Brian Scalabrine to the team’s NBA Development League affiliate in Santa Cruz on March 25 because of what Jackson called a ”difference in philosophies.”
For at least one night, though, Jackson’s players put the focus back on the court.
The Warriors scored more points than they had all season, made a season-high 17 3-pointers on 33 attempts and outshot Utah 57.8 percent to 45.3 percent from the floor. Center Andrew Bogut, who had missed the past four games with a bruise in his pelvis and groin area, also returned to finish with six points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes.
”There have been some things that happened off the floor that happen in all professional organizations,” Bogut said. ”It’s obviously none of your business, none of the fans’ business, no one’s business outside of our organization. It’s a team thing that stays in house. We’re still winning games.”
Playing against the Western Conference’s worst team certainly helped.
Trey Burke had 24 points and 15 assists, and Alec Burks added 24 points and five assists in the latest lopsided loss for the Jazz (24-53), who are just trying to finish out the season on a positive note. Instead, they let two of the league’s streakiest shooters get loose.
”Curry and Thompson got hot early. They got open looks,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. ”Curry came out with the intent of getting them up early and he made shots.”
The shooting display came after Jackson spent about 15 minutes before the game defending the job he has done, saying there’s ”no friction at all” between him and management. He also said ”I’m absolutely convinced my future is just fine.”
The scintillating shooting display by Jackson’s guard duo, which he has repeatedly proclaimed the ”greatest shooting backcourt in NBA history,” quickly put the Warriors on firm footing.
Curry, who said he has been battling a cold, made his first four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points and six assists in the first quarter to give Golden State a 35-22 lead. After the Warriors went ahead 40-22 early in the second quarter, Utah took advantage of several misses and mistakes by Golden State’s second unit to score 13 straight points.
Curry and Co. returned and restored order, ending the half with a 66-52 lead. Curry had 20 points and 11 assists at the break; Utah totaled 10 as a team during that span.
”It’s tough, man,” Burks said. ”I guarded both of them. They’re great players and they can really shoot.”
Thompson and Curry continued their scoring surge in the third quarter to lift the Warriors ahead 101-73 through three quarters. Both sat out the fourth.
Thompson finished 11 of 20 from the floor, including 7 of 10 from 3-point range. Curry shot 12 of 18 from the field and 5 of 10 from beyond the arc.
NOTES: Warriors PF David Lee sat out for the sixth straight game with nerve inflammation in his right leg, and his status remains murky. … The last time the Warriors were 19 games over .500 was when they held a 50-31 record near the end of the 1993-94 season. They finished 50-32. … The Warriors swept the season series (4-0) against the Jazz for the first time. … Golden State doesn’t play again until hosting Denver on Thursday, while the Jazz face Dallas on Tuesday in Utah.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP