Each time it appears the Golden State Warriors have shaken their sloppy play, they fail to build any momentum.
Following one of their most impressive wins of the season, the Warriors will look to stop that trend Friday night when they visit the last-place Utah Jazz.
Since their 10-game winning streak was snapped Jan. 8, the Warriors (28-19) have gone 4-6, with none of the wins coming consecutively. The most recent of those victories came Thursday, when Golden State defeated the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers 111-92 in wire-to-wire fashion. The Warriors dominated down low, holding a 53-34 edge in rebounding and 66-22 advantage in points in the paint.
David Lee had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Andrew Bogut added 14 and 17 boards as Golden State outrebounded an opponent for the first time in 10 games.
"We needed that to get ourselves going, we’ve been struggling as of late. This was a big for us, against a good team, but the test for us is to back it up (against Utah)," guard Stephen Curry said. "We have to make winning plays, pay attention to details, defend at a high level. That will travel with us and let us get wins."
Curry was extremely efficient versus the Clippers, scoring 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting. He also had seven assists to just three turnovers, which has been a key to the Warriors’ success this season. When Curry protects the basketball, Golden State does well, as he averages 5.4 turnovers in losses, compared to 3.5 in wins.
That is good news against a Utah defense that is among the league’s worst at forcing turnovers. Opponents give up the ball only 12.9 times per game against the Jazz (16-29), though the team is able to capitalize turning those turnovers into 17.1 points per game.
Utah has won back-to-back games – both at home – for only the third time this season and will be seeking its longest win streak of 2013-14.
After a three-point win over Washington two days earlier, the Jazz did most of their damage at the foul line Monday in a 106-99 victory over a depleted Sacramento team. Derrick Favors had 17 points and 12 rebounds as one of three players with double-doubles, and Utah made 35 of a league season-high 53 free throws.
The two straight wins have pushed the Jazz out of last place in the Western Conference, a spot they occupied since losing 14 of their first 15 games.
"It’s a good feeling for us to move out of last place in the West," said forward Gordon Hayward. "It’s a step forward for us as a team."
Hayward has been strong for the Jazz since missing five games earlier this month with a hip injury, averaging 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in three contests.
The Warriors swept the Jazz in a home-and-home series November 16 and 18, winning 98-87 at Salt Lake City in the back end. Golden State hasn’t won multiple regular season games in Utah in the same season since the 1980-81 campaign.