'Tip your hat': Steph Curry's dagger helps lift Warriors over Jazz

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SALT LAKE CITY — In case any Jazz fans had somehow forgotten, Steph Curry is a bad man.

Coming off a sprint from the corner, Curry caught a pass, turned right and shot a 3-pointer over the outstretched hands of Royce O'Neale and Donovan Mitchell. It was absurd enough that he was able to get squared up and get a clean shot off. It was just sheer ridiculous that it went in.

That 3-pointer with 1:26 left in the game helped bury the Jazz on Saturday.

"Tip your hat," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "You've got to do all the other things and not have breakdowns in other situations because, frankly, that's gonna happen. He's proven that he does that."

There were too many other breakdowns as Golden State beat Utah 123-116 at Vivint Arena in a battle of two of the top teams in the West.

Curry's 28 points led the way, but the Warriors also got big nights from Andrew Wiggins and Otto Porter Jr. in the win.

Ahead of the game, both squads downplayed the supposed heavyweight bout; it was, after all, just a regular season game. There were other factors, too, that took away from the potential playoff preview.

Draymond Green was out, due to being in COVID-19 protocols, and the Warriors had a big rest advantage. Golden State hadn't played since Tuesday; the Jazz were playing their third game in four nights.

By the third quarter, though, it was clear this game meant a little more. Golden State coach Steve Kerr was irate with some of the calls and let G League call up official Brent Haskill, who was working his third NBA game, have it — yelling, cursing and punching the air on his way to a technical foul.

Snyder, meanwhile, changed up his rotation to better match up with Golden State. Snyder is one of the most consistent coaches in the league with his sub patterns, but he was willing to alter them for Saturday night's contest.

After a first half where the Jazz (26-10) were outscored by 14, mostly due to the Warriors taking full advantage of Utah's struggling small-ball defense, Snyder opted to mirror Rudy Gobert's minutes with Curry's to try and overcome the absence of Hassan Whiteside, who missed the game due to being in concussion protocols.

That strategy worked; Utah outscored Golden State 41-22 (and Kerr would argue some beneficial calls).

"I think it's kind of self explanatory that when Rudy Gobert is in the game, he's able to do some things that are unique," Snyder said.

With Gobert on the court, the Jazz had a defensive rating of 116.7. When he was off, that ballooned to 139.3. So in the end, it was a battle of uniqueness: Gobert vs. Curry.

Curry won the fourth quarter and the game.

The Golden State superstar scored 12 of his 28 points in the final frame to lead the Warriors to the victory. He got some help down the stretch, too, including a 3-pointer from Andre Iguodala, who shot 21% from deep, with 40 seconds left in the game sealed it for the visitors. Golden State shot 53% from the field and 53% from the 3-point line.

"I don't look at this game and think the lack of execution at the end of the game was the difference in the game," Snyder said. "I thought they're a unique team and they're gonna force you to have some breakdowns."

Curry hit a shot most in the NBA would miss badly, and Iguodala hit a surprising triple over Gobert. Utah's center said he was trying to make sure to stop any backdoor passes or cuts down low, which meant the contest wasn't as strong as it could have been. He played the percentages, Iguodala made the Jazz pay.

"They earned it," Gobert said.

As for the Jazz, it was clear they ran out of gas at the end: Utah shot 43% from the field and 32% from the 3-point line. While Donovan Mitchell scored 20 points, he was just 4 of 19 from the field, and Utah was outscored 37-25 in the final 12 minutes.

"Out of the 19, I'd probably say there were three I wish I could have back," Mitchell said. "It's one of those things where I can't sit here and kind of overthink things. It's the same shots I hit not even 24 hours ago."

Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson also scored 20 points for the Jazz, who had their six-game winning streak snapped.

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