Jazz tasked with shutting down Curry, Warriors

SALT LAKE CITY — On a team filled with world-class shooters and scorers, Stephen Curry continues to find ways to rise above the crowd.

Since returning from an ankle sprain that caused him to miss 13 games in December and January, Curry has lit the world on fire with his shooting. He has made five or more 3-pointers in five straight games for the Golden State Warriors as they head into a road clash with the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.

Curry is coming off his best outside shooting performance of the month. He went 8-of-13 from outside and scored a season-high 49 points to lead the Warriors to a 109-105 win over Boston on Saturday.

“When a guy has been MVP twice, you just sort of accept the fact he’s one of the best players in the world,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “When he was on the rise, and the MVPs happened, it was maybe a bigger story. Maybe that’s the best sign of true greatness is when people just expect it every night. I know we expect it every night because it happens almost every night.”

Golden State (40-10) has lost only one game so far in January when Curry has been on the court.

One reason for it is that Curry has taken his game to an even higher level than usual. The two-time NBA MVP has been virtually unstoppable on offense, averaging 30.9 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the perimeter.

There’s no special formula behind Curry’s latest surge. For him, it boils down to not overthinking a play and acting on instinct to decide when and where to take a shot.

“I have confidence to shoot them,” Curry said. “If I was in here shooting 10 percent the last five games, I’d say the same thing. I really have the same mentality no matter what’s going on. That’s obviously a huge part of my game and I got to make sure I keep that confidence no matter what.”

Confidence is in larger supply for the Jazz as well. Utah (21-28) returns home after closing out the team’s most recent road trip with wins over Detroit and Toronto. The Jazz earned their first back-to-back wins since early December after rallying down the stretch in both games.

Utah erased a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Pistons en route to a 98-95 overtime win. Then, the Jazz erased a six-point deficit in the final 2:24 and beat the Raptors 97-93 after Ricky Rubio hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with four seconds remaining.

“I’ve said the whole time the challenge for this group is to keep getting better and that’s never a straight line,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “It never goes the way you think it’s going to go. It’s just a steady climb and how you deal with that is important.”

Golden State will offer a good barometer for how much Utah has climbed during back-to-back wins. The Warriors ran away with a 126-101 win in Oakland on Dec. 27 after dropping 42 points in the third quarter against the Jazz. Kevin Durant scored 21 points and Draymond Green tallied 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead Golden State.

The Warriors have won five straight games against Utah.