VIVINT SMART HOME ARENA, SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Two nights after taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals series, the Golden State Warriors (2-0) headed to Salt Lake to face the Utah Jazz (0-2).
The Warriors were without Kevon Looney (left hip strain). The Jazz ruled out George Hill prior to the game. Shelvin Mack started in Hill’s place.
Prior to the game, Draymond Green shook hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver:
Q1: Few Sparks + Draymond Fouls = Double-Digit Lead?
The game got off to a slow start that included a bad pass by Kevin Durant that led to a steal by Boris Diaw and a blocked shot by Zaza Pachulia. Joe Ingles then stepped on the line before barreling into Draymond Green, and Pachulia found Stephen Curry on a broken play after corralling the initial missed turnaround by Curry:
Later, Durant went left baseline dribble and bounced an assist into Zaza, Draymond blocked Diaw’s up-fake in the paint, but Green picked up two early fouls, both ticky-tack, as Rudy Gobert used his forearm and somehow got the benefit of the whistle, then later Mack drove right-side and got a call as Draymond back-pedaled.
Warriors head coach Mike Brown kept Green in the game, though.
Mack then made a nice dribble-step-back against Steph, but Curry came back with a curl, a jumper on the catch from Draymond up top as Pachulia set the off-ball screen to free the shooter.
Golden State held the early lead at 10-6 with 6:26 remaining.
Shortly thereafter, Rodney Hood jab-stepped past Green for a lob to Gobert and a smash, Draymond unable to be aggressive with the two fouls, but Durant returned the favor with a catch-and-shoot three, Zaza supplying another screen and Draymond the assist.
However, Gobert missed a reverse try at the other end and a late whistle was blown on Green, his third foul, which sent him to the bench, replaced by JaVale McGee. Gobert missed both free throws and the Warriors held a 13-10 lead with 5:14 to play.
Later, Durant found himself iso’ed against Joe Johnson on the right wing as Curry cleared out the side, cutting to the opposite corner, and “KD” executed the Dirk Nowitzki-like one-legged fade flawlessly, and Golden State held a 19-11 lead at the next timeout with 2:39 to go:
Gordon Hayward finally came alive, getting a dribble-and-pop to trickle in, then also a right baseline turnaround fade over Shaun Livingston to drop, but Curry and Durant took advantage of iso’s on the left wing against Dante Exum and went to the line both times, although Steph missed a free throw.
KD drove in for a runner, lost his balance, threw up a wild shot which caromed back to him on the floor as he grabbed the ball, reset back out, and Livingston found Andre Iguodala wide open on the right arc for three, giving the Warriors a 25-17 lead with 55 seconds to go:
Joe Johnson then missed two ventures into the paint, and the Dubs made him pay as Durant went the length of the court with huge steps for an easy-looking righty scoop…
…although he missed at the buzzer and Iguodala’s impressive lefty banker on the offensive rebound at the buzzer was waved off.
Golden State had zero sparks as plays, Green was saddled with two personals, not three — the refs had one changed to Pachulia — and yet the Warriors took a 27-17 lead into the second stanza.
Q2: Lapses Lead To Milking Durant, Ended By Another Lapse
Johnson got the Jazz off on the right foot with a triple to start the second, but Green struck back with an attack left-side on Diaw, converting the righty scoop with the harm, although he missed the free throw.
Ian Clark started the period alongside Thompson, Iguodala, Draymond, and David West, and Clark got a bucket on his first attempt…
…but things went downhill from there.
Clark fouled Hood outside the arc, and Hood’s free throws closed the gap to 31-23 after a timeout, then Clark lost the ball to Mack on a behind-the-back dribble attempt, and Gobert got another two-handed smash assisted by Mack at the other end.
Out of a timeout, Livingston threw the ball away and Klay took a foul to stop the break, but Durant took over, hitting two post-isolation turnaround jumpers over Hayward from the left baseline:
However, Mack found Gobert again for an easy bucket at the rim, then Gobert got a touch-pass to Diaw for an easy layup and Brown called a twenty-second timeout as the Warriors’ lead evaporated to just 37-34 with 5:05 left.
West found Draymond for a left-side dunk on the ATO (“after-timeout” play)…
…the Jazz answered with another impressive Gobert pass, this time a wrap-around to Diaw for a dunk.
Curry couldn’t hit on a drive-and-pop from the right baseline with no one in blue underneath, and Mack got a running scoop to close the gap to 39-38 with 3:58 remaining, but West ended the mini-drought immediately with a swish from the top on a Green drive.
Iguodala splashed a three on a designed inbound after a timeout from the baseline, then Ingles hit a runner as Draymond and Gobert became entangled, both going down to the floor, and Green got called for the foul, sending him to the bench with his third foul.
Durant swished a triple from the left arc right after that, but Draymond got called for a technical from the end of the bench:
Gobert got a put-back dunk as the momentum shifted, KD drove but got rejected by Rudy, and Johnson hit a right-post fade over Klay.
Curry missed an open three on a pick-and-roll with West, Thompson got dinged in the face during a Johnson double-team with Steph from the same right mid-post as the last sequence, and the Jazz swung the ball from Hayward to a wide-open Hood from the left corner, and the three connected, giving Utah a 48-47 lead.
With 54 seconds to go, West again hit from the top to stem the tide, but Klay attempted a two-for-one curl catch-and-shoot from the right three-point line, missed, and Curry got his hand caught in the cookie jar on the rebound.
That send Gobert to the line as it was the Warriors’ fifth team foul, Rudy hit both, and West lost the ball on an up-fake as time expired.
Utah held a 50-49 lead at halftime.
(Photo: @letsgowarriors Instagram account via @paulbensonev)