x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

‘More importantly, our defence is solid’ says Stephen Curry of offensive-minded Golden State Warriors

The prolific offensive team suggested their success was coming from defensive efforts after a 98-87 win over Utah, with Curry adding, "When you are getting stops and you're able to run in transition, the offence seems to flow pretty smoothly."

Stephen Curry scored 22 points for Golden State on Monday night. Jeff Chiu / AP
Stephen Curry scored 22 points for Golden State on Monday night. Jeff Chiu / AP

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah // Stephen Curry found his shooting stroke in the second quarter, and it was more than enough to push the Golden State Warriors past the struggling Utah Jazz.

Curry scored 22 points and Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes had 17 apiece in the Warriors’ 98-87 victory on Monday night.

Curry had eight assists and made four 3-pointers before a scary play in the fourth quarter left him a little woozy. The star guard left the game after Utah’s Marvin Williams landed on his head in a scramble for a loose ball.

“I went to reach for the ball and the next thing I know, I hit the ground pretty hard and then I think Marvin landed on me,” Curry said.

After a couple of minutes to gain his bearings, Curry got up slowly and left the court under his own power with a towel draped over his head. But he is expected to play in Wednesday’s home game against Memphis.

“I’ve got a nasty headache but I’ll be all right,” he said.

The Warriors made 12 of 22 attempts from 3-point range and led by as many as 28 points.

“When you defend, rebound and run, it’s hard to guard us. Any one of us can make a play in transition,” Curry said.

Gordon Hayward scored 18 points and Williams had 16 but the Jazz (1-11) dropped their third straight after earning their lone win of the season.

Playing without injured center Jermaine O’Neal, the Warriors got 14 points and 14 rebounds from David Lee and Andrew Bogut added 13 boards and three blocked shots to neutralise Utah’s inside presence.

What the Jazz lack (and the Warriors have in spades) became apparent in the fourth quarter. After clawing within striking distance, Utah missed eight of their first nine shots in the final period.

The Jazz are among the worst shooting teams in the league, converting less than 41 percent of their attempts. They were even worse against Golden State, finishing at 39.5 per cent despite an abundance of clean looks at the rim.

“We missed some outside jump shots and they were off to the races and in transition,” Hayward said. “It’s frustrating and we have to play smarter.”

On the other end, the Warriors heated up in the final period to put the game away. Thompson’s layup with 7:56 to play extended the lead to 92-69.

“We’re playing well and sharing the ball. But more importantly, our defense is solid,” Curry said. “When you are getting stops and you’re able to run in transition, the offence seems to flow pretty smoothly.”

Utah did have one strong stretch in the third quarter. Diante Garrett, who was just signed last week, checked in and promptly scored eight in a 17-2 spurt. Garrett dished to Williams for a 3 that made it 70-57.

The Warriors, who had lost their previous two road games, outrebounded Utah 57-40 and limited the NBA’s best offensive rebounding team to just six.

“We are starting to get an identity, especially defensively,” Bogut said. “We won the rebound battle by 17 against a very good offensive rebounding team. I like our effort.”

Early in the second quarter, Williams made a 3-pointer to help the Jazz close to 29-27 before Curry led a 30-9 run, fueled by 6-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc for Golden State.

Curry had missed eight 3-pointers in a row over the past three games before making a trio of 3s in the second-quarter surge.

“It was a close game and they made three in a row there and we panicked a little bit. This is a team that is capable of scoring a lot of points in a short amount of time,” Utah coach Ty Corbin said.

Golden State also won the front end of a home-and-away set between the teams. Thompson had 25 points as the Warriors held off the Jazz 102-88 on Saturday.

O’Neal missed the game with a bruised right knee and a strained right groin. He didn’t travel with the team, and the reserve is considered day to day.

“We’re a very loose group and very young group,” Bogut said. “I’m kind of the old dog now at 29, believe it or not. But we’ve come together and it’s been a great start to the season.”

OTHER MONDAY RESULTS

Bulls 86, Bobcats 81

Forward Luol Deng scored 21 points, including a clutch three-pointer with 27.1 seconds left, to help the Chicago Bulls hold off the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Bulls held a one-point lead when point guard Derrick Rose fired a cross-court pass to Deng, who drained a long shot near the top of the key to give Chicago an 85-81 lead.

Guard Jimmy Butler added 14 points for the Bulls (6-3), who won their fifth consecutive game.

Grizzlies 106, Clippers 102

The Memphis Grizzlies hung on for a victory against the rival Los Angeles Clippers in the first regular season meeting between the teams.

In a matchup of teams that have battled in the last two play-offs, forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol combined for 49 points and 24 rebounds, and the rugged Grizzlies forced the Clippers into 39.5 percent field-goal shooting.

Los Angeles twice crept within four points of the Grizzlies (6-5) over the final 30 seconds, but Randolph hit two free throws and then broke loose for an uncontested layup to keep the Clippers at arm’s length.

Forward Blake Griffin had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers (7-4).

Trail Blazers 108, Nets 98

The Portland Trail Blazers outscored the Brooklyn Nets 52-35 in the second half in order to overcome their host’s best first half of basketball this season on their way to a victory on Monday night.

Despite missing missing center Brook Lopez and guard Deron Williams to injury, Brooklyn (3-7) scored 63 points in the first half on 22-of-44 shooting.

But Portland (9-2) fought back for their seventh straight win behind 27 points from LaMarcus Aldridge and 25 from Wesley Matthews.

Thunder 115, Nuggets 113

Forward Kevin Durant scored 38 points, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Durant drained a three-pointer to snap a 105-105 tie with 1:41 remaining and the Thunder (7-3) clinched the game at the free throw line.

Westbrook contributed 30 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for Oklahoma City while Ty Lawson led Denver (4-6) with 29 points and eight assists.

Mavericks 97, 76ers 94

Behind a big second half from guard Monta Ellis, the Dallas Mavericks finally subdued the scrappy but ultimately undermanned Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia held the lead for nearly all of the first three quarters. However, Ellis had 13 points in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and 10 assists.

The Sixers, who again played without injured rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, fell to 5-7. They are 1-5 after a 4-2 start.