Jazz aim to continue resurgence vs. Warriors

NBA Basketball
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The Utah Jazz are slowly starting to put the pieces back together after a recent lull, and they have a solid opportunity to find more success Friday with a home game against the struggling Golden State Warriors.

The Jazz are winners of two of their last three games following a season-high, three-game losing streak. Utah also lost five of six games during its downturn from Nov. 25-Dec. 4.

While the five defeats in that run were alarming, two of them came against the top teams in each conference — the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers — while the others were against the revived Indiana Pacers, the defending-champion Toronto Raptors and the streaking Philadelphia 76ers.

Utah’s most recent victory was a 127-116 triumph at Minnesota on Wednesday that was the Jazz’s highest scoring game since they delivered 128 points in a Nov. 23 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points for Utah on Wednesday, Rudy Gobert had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and Joe Ingles added a season-best 23 points.

Normally a solid defensive club, the Jazz have taken a hit in that department of late, giving up 120-plus points five times in their past 10 games.

“We talked a lot about moving the ball … and guys spacing so that we can move it,” coach Quin Snyder said, according to the team’s official website. “Then, for the most part (Wednesday), early on I thought we did a good job defensively. It was a good win.”

The victory came without point guard Mike Conley, who missed his fourth consecutive game due to a hamstring injury.

Despite their struggles of late, the Jazz remain a tough group to contend with at home, fashioning a 9-3 record in Salt Lake City. They did fall to the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder 104-90 on Monday.

It doesn’t matter where Golden State plays; winning games has been a challenge. The Warriors arrive in Utah on a two-game losing streak, with setbacks in six of their past seven, nine of their past 11 and 16 of their past 19.

The Warriors and Jazz already have played twice this season, with Utah winning 122-108 in San Francisco on Nov. 11 and 113-109 at home on Nov. 22. Mitchell scored 30 for the Jazz in the Nov. 22 game, while Gobert had 19 rebounds.

Just when it seemed as if things could not get any lower for the Warriors, they lost a 124-122 overtime decision to the visiting Knicks on Wednesday. New York ended a 10-game losing streak and gave interim head coach Mike Miller his first win.

The positive for the Warriors is that their young collection of players rallied from as much as 22 points down to force the extra period. And Golden State also tied a season low with eight turnovers.

“I think we made a jump in our improvement on defense three weeks ago,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said afterward. “Early in the season, we were really struggling to guard. Our defense hasn’t been as good the last week or two. The second half (Wednesday) was good. We were much more aggressive, but when you are not getting stops, it’s really hard to sustain any momentum.”

The Warriors are hoping they are inside of two months away from the return of guard Stephen Curry from a broken left hand.

–Field Level Media

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