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Make-or-miss league: Jazz remain confident after being outshot by Warriors

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Golden State Warriors were below .500 entering Friday's game in San Francisco.

If you took that to mean the defending champs may have lost a step, their performance against the Utah Jazz may help convince you otherwise.

It was vintage Warriors on Friday as they topped the Jazz 129-118 at Chase Center.

Three-point barrages? Those came in waves. Golden State went 20-of-45 from the 3-point line; Steph Curry hit six 3s, Klay Thompson drilled five, and Andrew Wiggins banged home three himself.

Scoring avalanches? The Warriors had fast-break points and scored 20 points off turnovers.

Steph being Steph? Curry scored 15 points in the first quarter to help Golden State to a 17-point lead early. He finished the contest with a 13-point fourth quarter on his way to a 33-point night.

"Just the way they moved the ball and the chemistry they have as a team, I mean, it's apparent," Jazz rookie Walker Kessler said. "It was definitely an experience."

As for the Jazz, 34 missed 3-pointers made it hard to keep up.

Utah didn't necessarily play poorly — the team just shot poorly. The Jazz were 11-of-45 from 3-point range, which made Friday's game a shooting variance contest. Golden State made some key 3-pointers; the Jazz missed some. It happens.

What amplified the problem was how Golden State was able to get out and run and find open shooters off Utah's misses. It was a vicious cycle for the visitors.

"No, I'm not happy with it," Jazz coach Will Hardy said of his team's transition defense. "But it's tough because of how many shots we'd miss from 3. Golden State is one of the best teams ever playing with numbers in transition, and they do such a great job of locating their shooters. Tonight it felt like they made every one of them."

That feeling should come as no surprise, especially considering what happened at the end of the third quarter. Despite Curry's hot start, the poor shooting, and the 17-point first-half deficit, the Jazz found themselves in the lead midway through the third quarter.

A scorching start to the second half by Kelly Olyynk (13 points on three made 3-pointers in the third quarter) helped give the Jazz a 71-70 lead.

That lead was very short-lived, though. Wiggins converted a 4-point play on the other end, and the Warriors never trailed again. The reason for that: Klay Thompson.

Thompson hit four 3s to end the half, three of which came in transition. That sequence was deflating for the Jazz; Utah had fought all the way back and, within minutes, all that work was erased.

"They made a lot of timely shots," Hardy said. "Obviously, Steph and Klay finding 3s in transition really hurt us tonight. But I think for the most part, especially on the offensive end, we played the way we wanted to play; and if you shoot 25% from 3, it puts a lot of pressure on you."

Lauri Markkanen had 24 points on 9-for-17 shooting to lead Utah; Olynyk and Jordan Clarkson both had 21 points in the loss.

Could things have been better outside the shooting? Obviously.

Utah's half-court defense to start the game was poor, and its struggles to secure defensive boards helped lead to some back-breaking shots. But, for the most part, Hardy said he was pleased with how the Jazz played.

He liked the ball movement and the decisions on offense; he liked the defensive energy that Nickeil Alexander-Walker (who played a surprising 30 minutes) helped spark; he liked how his team didn't wilt even when it was apparent Golden State was going to be having one of those types of nights.

Even with the Jazz dropping their third-straight game and falling to 12-9 on the season, he said there's still plenty of optimism in the locker room about the team.

"It's just about keeping perspective on what's important to us," he said. "How you play is more important than the individual result. Obviously, we want to win every game, but over the course of 82 games there is some variance, especially in shooting, and we're a team that shoots a lot of 3s. So there are going to be some nights where you just don't make them for whatever the reasons are.

"We played a good team, and they played a good game, and we did not shoot the ball very well. So it's really about us watching the film and staying focused on the things that we can control, and I believe in our group and our shooting. I think that we've shown, especially early in the season, that if we get off 45 3s, I expect us to make more than 11 on most nights."

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