SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Playing strong defense has typically proven to be a winning formula for Utah. Getting to that point has taken more turns and detours than the Jazz anticipated this season.
Beating the defending NBA champions offers evidence that Utah is finally finding the defensive form the team and its fans took for granted at the end of last season.
Joe Ingles scored 20 points, Rudy Gobert had 17 points, 15 rebounds, and matched his season-high with four blocked shots to lead the Jazz to a 108-103 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.
Utah held Golden State to 40 percent shooting from the field and 32 percent from the perimeter. The biggest stops came in the final two minutes when the Warriors missed three out of four shot attempts – including a pair of 3-pointers that could have forced overtime.
“We defended for a full game,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. “We were locked into the game plan. When you play defense like that, and we shoot the way we did, the outcome is going to be the way it was.”
Jae Crowder added 18 points and 11 rebounds while Donovan Mitchell had 15 points on 5-of-26 shooting as Utah won its fourth straight home game.
Stephen Curry scored 32 points and Kevin Durant added 30 in just the Warriors’ second loss in eight games.
“We let them off the hook a little bit,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They weren’t playing that well but we made a lot of mistakes. We couldn’t find the necessary energy and execution you need to win in this building.”
After taking a three-point lead at halftime, the Jazz stayed in front through much of the third quarter as Ingles, Korver and Crowder combined for seven 3-pointers over the last half of the quarter.
Utah outscored Golden State 9-2 to open the fourth. Ingles finished off the run with another outside basket, giving the Jazz a 93-82 lead.
Durant cut Utah’s lead to 106-103 on a 3 with 1:12 remaining. He missed a potential tying basket from the corner with 39 seconds left. Andre Iguodala had a shot at another outside basket in the final seconds, but also missed. The offensive rebound went off Curry’s hands and out of bounds with 2.4 seconds left.
“They created a little bit of separation, but we fought hard and I liked that energy and effort on the defensive end,” Curry said. “We gave ourselves a chance to get over the hump down the stretch, but it just didn’t happen.”
Utah used a 10-0 run to take a 19-11 lead in the first quarter. Gobert scored on a pair of dunks and Korver made two 3-pointers to fuel the spurt.
The Warriors rallied when Curry took over in the second quarter.
He totaled 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the quarter. Curry scored his last three baskets — a pair of layups and a 3 — to help fuel a 11-5 spurt that gave the Warriors a 48-42 lead.
He didn’t have same impact in the second half, scoring just 11 points on a total of five baskets.
“We just gave him different looks,” Crowder said. “I feel like the way we played him wore on him a little bit. We just gave him a lot of bodies to see in front of him.”
Utah edged back in front 56-53 just before halftime when Ingles knocked down a go-ahead 3-pointer in the corner and then stole the ball from Durant to set up a pair of free throws from Ricky Rubio.
Mitchell was a season-worst 19.2 percent from the field. His previous low was 21.4 percent when he went 3 for 14 for 12 points in a 96-88 win over Memphis on Nov. 12th.
It marked the third straight game where he took at least 20 field goal attempts and shot under 40 percent from the field. Mitchell found other ways to make an impact. He totaled six assists, five rebounds and two steals.
Since returning from an 11-game absence due to a groin injury, Curry has shot at a blistering pace. Wednesday night marked his fifth game in the last nine with 30 or more points. He has shot 47 percent or better from the floor in six of those contests and has missed just one free throw on 47 attempts so far in December.
Warriors: Durant passed Gary Payton (21,813 points) for 32nd place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He now has 21,836 points. … Golden State held the Jazz to 39.8 percent shooting. It is the first time the Warriors lost this season after holding an opponent to under 40 percent from the field.
Jazz: Gobert grabbed eight of his 15 rebounds in the first quarter. … Utah tallied at least 39 points off the bench for the fifth straight home game. … The Jazz finished with 30 assists, the seventh time they have had at least 30 this season. Ricky Rubio led the way with 10 assists. Utah is 27-0 dating back to Nov. 26, 2008, when getting 30 or more assists at home.
Warriors: Host Dallas on Saturday.
Jazz: At Portland on Friday night.
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