SALT LAKE CITY — Steve Kerr understands things are different — very different.
The Golden State coach is no longer the leader of a traveling rock show — where no matter where the Warriors went hundreds, if not thousands, of fans would be waiting hours before tipoff just to watch the likes of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson warm up.
There wasn’t much of a crowd surrounding the tunnel the Warriors ran out of on Friday night at Vivint Arena. And to be honest, there were probably plenty of fans in attendance who only recognized one player on the Golden State active roster — former Jazz guard Alec Burks. Injuries to Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, D’Angelo Russell, Kevon Looney and others will do that.
The Warriors had just eight healthy guys on Friday — and not one was part of the Warriors’ five straight Finals seasons.
So you can almost forgive the Jazz for not looking their sharpest on Friday. The competition didn’t demand it. Despite some sloppy moments — and a very sloppy finish — the Jazz still hung on for a 112-109 win over the Warriors.
“I feel for them having all the injuries,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “That’s a tough thing. I think the measure of that, you just look at how hard they play, how connected they are, how they move the ball. That speaks to Steve and the organization and the culture and identity of the team that without those guys, I won’t name them all, that you have people that continue to play that way and compete the way that they do and play basketball with the style that I really respect and admire.”
And the Warriors did compete. They jumped out to a 7-2 lead, were down by just two points at the end of the first quarter, and with 22 seconds remaining in the game, had cut what was once a 21-point Utah lead to just two.
After a missed free throw by Mike Conley, Golden State — the team with a roster filled with minimum-salary players — had the ball in a one-possession game.
Burks drove in the lane and was stopped at the rim by Gobert. The Jazz got the rebound, Donovan Mitchell sank one free throw to help ice the game, and Gobert blocked Burks again at the rim (a block that was originally ruled a foul before a replay review) to officially end the game.
“I think there’s disappointment in the fourth quarter and how we executed offensively,” Snyder said. “And then the things that we can control, particularly transition defense, and not getting back with urgency.”
The Jazz simply let the Warriors back in the game — creating much more drama in the final minutes than necessary.
“The whole fourth quarter, we got sloppy, turned the ball over, didn’t get back in transition," Snyder said.
Mitchell scored 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting, Conley had 27 points and four assists, Bojan Bogdanovic had 17 points, and Gobert finished with eight points and 18 rebounds.
The Jazz improved to 10-5 with the win.