Warriors’s Huge Second Half Downs Utah 101 -126

December 28th, 2017 | by Clint Johnson

Kevin Durant (35) and the world champion Warriors overwhelmed Rodney Hood’s (5)
Jazz in the second half, 78 to 54.(Yahoo Sports)

Story of the Game

The defending champion Warriors can count on getting every opponent’s best effort every night. Tonight with the Jazz, that resulted in a competitive first half of basketball. Only a Draymond Green three–his second, which happened to be Golden State’s total from long range at that point–at the end of the half put Utah down by one.

Then in the second half the champs went into a gear only they1 have, and it was an order of magnitude greater than anything the Jazz could either match or check. The Warriors came out of half time and upped their energy and pace, and in the process blew Utah off the floor. Golden State shot 74 percent in the third period, nearly doubling Utah’s paltry 38 percent. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson also dialed in the long-range shooting that has been the lever Golden State has used to shift the entire league, hitting two threes apiece in the period.

After twelve blistering and, for the Jazz, bewildering minutes the horn sounded and they looked up to find themselves outscored 42 to 22. It was the fifth time this season the Warriors outscored an opponent by twenty or more points in the third quarter.

The Warriors barely slowed down, scorching the nets for 70 percent shooting in the fourth quarter, which kept the Jazz from ever even thinking about making a final run.

In total, the second half numbers do a fair job of illustrating how impotent Utah’s defense was against Golden State’s offensive machine: 78 points in the half on 72 percent shooting.

Stars of the Game

Superstar: None

While several Jazz players ended up with fair stats, none put together a full enough game to warrant this recognition.

Secondary Stars: Derrick Favors, Donovan Mitchell, and Rodney Hood

Like the game itself, Utah’s stars were products of very different halves.

In the first half, Favors was as impactful as any player on the court. He scored 12 points and grabbed a huge eight rebounds, including four big offensive boards, taking advantage of one of Golden State’s few vulnerabilities. But when the Warriors grabbed the game by the throat, Favors impact waned. He finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, an assist, and Utah was only outscored by five in the 26 minutes he played, the best plus-minus among Utah’s starters.

Neither Mitchell or Hood were particularly significant in the first half, combining to shoot only three of 15. But they did manage to put a little lipstick on the pig that was the second half, shooting 12 of 22 there. While their numbers each look impressive–Mitchell with 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block, and Hood with 26 points, five rebounds, and three steals–neither played much of a role when this game was competitive.

Secret Star: Royce O’Neale

O’Neale played a productive 10 minutes with five points, three rebounds, and two assists. That he was the only Jazz player with a positive plus-minus at plus-eight means little though.

Stats of the Game

60 – Warriors points in the paint. This iteration of the team that made the three point shot famous is really driven by their scoring at the rim in the space created by their shooters, more so even than by the three itself.

63 – Golden State bench points. When Stephen Curry went out with an injury, there was wide speculation about how well the Warriors could weather his loss. Tonight is indicative of the answer due to the team’s incredible depth.

32 percent – Combined shooting percentage of Utah’s guards–Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Rodney Hood, and Alec Burks–in the first three quarters of play.

Plus-20 – Durant’s plus-minus in the third quarter, which he dominated on both ends of the court, scoring 11, grabbing four rebounds, dishing two assists, and swatting two shots.

Sundries

Take a quick look at just how evil Utah’s December schedule has turned out to be:

  • Four wins and 10 losses
  • One loss to Golden State, December record: 12 and one
  • Three losses to Oklahoma City, December record: 12 and three
  • One WIN against San Antonio, December record: 10 and four
  • Two losses to Houston, December record: Eight and three
  • One loss against Cleveland, December record: Nine and four
  • One loss against Chicago, December record: Nine and five
  • One WIN against Boston, December record: Nine and six
  • One WIN against Washington, December record: Eight and six
  • One WIN against New Orleans, December record: Seven and six
  • One loss against Milwaukee, December record: Six and six
  • One loss against Denver, December record: Seven and seven

That’s a combined record of 97 and 51 (66 percent winning percentage).

They played opponents with the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and fourteenth2 best records in the month of December.

If the playoffs were today, this month Utah would have squared off against the Western Conference’s number one, two, three, five, six, and seventh seeds and the Eastern Conference’s first, third, fifth, and seventh seeds. Of all Jazz opponents this month, only the Bulls currently lie outside the playoffs.

There is one more game in 2017, a home contest against, of course, Cleveland and King James. 2018 can’t come soon enough.

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. He teaches writing at Salt Lake Community College. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.

One Comment

  1. John Jenkins says:

    The lackadaisical defense in the third qtr was numbing for the Jazz . Seemed as if every player was beaten off the dribble allowing cuts in scoring at the rim. The l3 pt shooting by the Warriors we can get, but the wide open layups and dunks at the rim were unconscionable. Too ofte two players would guard on Warrior on the perimeter allowing easy scores. The Warriors were screening and cutting and the Jazz were playing one v one on offense. Time for the Jazz coaching staff to fix both defense and offense. Other teams are now prepared for Mitchell and make other Jazz beat them. Burks seems to be playing a game by himself. Dante has to wonder why he was taken out last year when some of the Jazz guards make such terrible mistakes and continue to play.

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