After a rare four-day layoff between games, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted he had a few concerns coming into Friday night’s game against the Utah Jazz.
Just like they’ve done most of the season, the Warriors quickly put Kerr at ease.
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Andre Iguodala scored 17 points, Harrison Barnes had 14 points and 11 rebounds and the Golden State Warriors used a blistering start to beat the Utah Jazz 101-88 for their fourth straight win.
"The encouraging thing tonight was it showed to our guys that if we just defend and take care of the ball we can win a lot of games even if we don’t shoot well," Kerr said. "That’s the mark of a good team."
The well-rested Warriors shook off any rust with a smothering defensive effort. They led 28-13 at the end of the first quarter, 54-32 at the half and 85-57 entering the fourth.
Golden State (9-2) is off to its best start in 41 years.
"Nothing came easy for them in the first half," Warriors center Andrew Bogut said. "It was one of our best defensive games, or halves, of the season."
Enes Kanter scored 18 points, and Gordon Hayward had 12 points and five rebounds for a young Jazz team that’s struggling against top competition. Utah (5-8) hasn’t beaten a team that currently has a winning record.
"We got punched and we weren’t ready to take that punch," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
In what has been a scintillating month under Kerr, the Warriors entered the game leading the NBA shooting 49.9 percent from the field and holding opponents to a league-low 41.4 percent from the floor. But they also topped the league with 19.3 turnovers per game as they adjusted to the rookie coach’s ball-movement based offense.
The Warriors put on a dazzling display against the Jazz, showing off a suffocating defense and a space-and-pace scheme while minimizing mistakes on both ends.
Golden State outshot the Jazz 50 percent to 42.7 percent. The Warriors also had just 13 turnovers — most with the outcome already decided — while Utah committed 20.
The Warriors scored the first 12 points and often made the game look like a practice session, turning defense into easy transition baskets and numerous highlights.
The most captivating play came in the second quarter when Bogut gave a behind-the-back, dribble handoff to Stephen Curry near the top of the arc. Dribbling to his left, Curry floated a left-handed lob back to Bogut that the 7-footer finished with a right-handed slam, bringing the announced sellout crowd of 19,596 to its feet.
"It worked out nicely," Bogut said.
Utah took more than four minutes to score its first basket, struggled to defend Golden State’s streaky shooters and had trouble moving the ball on offense.
The Warriors, meanwhile, got big contributions from all over, including Klay Thompson (14 points), Marreese Speights (14 points), Bogut (12 points, four rebounds) and Draymond Green (11 points, nine rebounds, five assists).
Jazz: Rodney Hood missed the game with right plantar fasciitis. He remains out indefinitely.
Warriors: The team said David Lee, who has missed all but one game because of a strained left hamstring, is making "very good progress" and will be evaluated again during the upcoming five-game road trip. … The Warriors have won five straight over Utah, the longest streak in franchise history.
In a rare occurrence, three Australians played in the same game — Bogut for the Warriors, and fifth overall draft pick Dante Exum and Joe Ingles for the Jazz. "The more the merrier," Bogut said.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"They just knocked us down from the first point and we were down," Kanter said.