It’s no secret that the Utah Jazz have been plagued with injuries this season; however, when Rodney Hood joined George Hill, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks on that list Tuesday night, things became a little more dire. On Thursday morning, there was still a glimmer of hope to beat the best team in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors. Until Gordon Hayward was shut down for the game. Optimism was quickly replaced by pessimism, and every basketball fan, especially Utah Jazz fans, expected this to be a runaway game for the Warriors. But the Jazz, with 10 players available — eight of them seeing playing time — were not about to go down without a fight.
The Jazz drew first blood to start the game with a 4-0 lead. Over the course of the next nine minutes, Golden State would go on a 29-1 run, leading 29-5 before the end of the first quarter. The onslaught continued in the second quarter, with a little more life from the Jazz offensively, but by the end of the first half, the Warriors led 64-49, and a blowout seemed imminent. In the third quarter, however, defense was the name of the game for the Jazz as they held the Warriors to a season-low 17 points, while shooting 7 of 17 for the quarter. The defense stayed consistent in the fourth quarter, and both Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert did everything they could on both ends of the floor. Shelvin Mack even found a few lanes to the basket on the right side of the floor, but it wasn’t enough in the end. The Warriors came out on top with the final score of 106-99.
As much as I would like to avoid criticizing the officiating last night, I can’t hold my tongue here. The Warriors were getting away with far too many no-calls last night, and the Jazz were getting caught for soft touch fouls. The Warriors were reaching in and shoving Jazz players around like crazy. That’s not to say the Jazz aren’t guilty of their fair share of fouls, but calls should be consistent for both teams. A perfect example of this is when Stephen Curry hooked his arm with Kevin Durant’s as he took his mid-range jumper from the right elbow, and the call ended up going against Joe Johnson, who was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Overall, the Jazz earned an admirable moral victory, putting up an incredible fight in the second half with four of their five starters out with injuries. However, the most thought-provoking thing to take away from the game is this: if the Utah Jazz can give the number one team in the NBA this hard of a time with a quarter of their guys out with injury, what does this match-up look like when the Jazz are healthy? I look forward to the rematch in Oakland on December 20.