Feeling strong, Warriors heed words of wisdom from Steve Kerr

OAKLAND, Calif. — The sidelined Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr relayed a message to his team through acting head coach Mike Brown before Game 2 on Thursday: Don’t give Utah life.

Golden State stormed out to a 12-3 run, highlighted by superb ball movement and two 3-pointers by Draymond Green that prompted a frustrated Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder to call a full timeout a little under three minutes into the game.

A total of 15 points was all the Jazz could muster in the first quarter. Kerr’s message was received.

The Warriors took a commanding 2-0 lead on the Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals after a 115-104 victory Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

Kevin Durant registered 25 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Stephen Curry contributed 23 points, seven assists and five 3-pointers, and Green finished with 21 points, seven boards, six assists and five 3-pointers of his own.

“Our crowd was great tonight,” Durant said. “We fed off that energy. Defensively, we were good. They made some tough ones over us. Made too many 3s, I think. But for the most part, we did a good job of keeping our men in front and helping each other.”

Curry extended his 3-pointers-made streak to an NBA-record 64 consecutive playoff games.

Utah has not led at all in this series. The Jazz have been a resilient group all season long, facing their fair share of adversity only to find a way to overcome a litany of obstacles.

However, this matchup with the Warriors is an obstacle like no other. Golden State’s speed seems simply too overwhelming for the Jazz.

“I think the game has an ebb and a flow,” Snyder said, “and they blitzed us so strongly early.”

Utah was without starting point guard George Hill, who is nursing a sore left big toe. Backup point guard Shelvin Mack received the nod in his place, and was 0-for-3 against Curry, with three turnovers. Overall, Curry limited Jazz players to 1-of-8 shooting as a primary defender and forced five turnovers.

Green was 4-for-4 from distance in the opening quarter. In postseason play, he’s 18-for-33 on triples. With the Jazz exerting so much energy denying and pressuring Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant, Green has made them pay for leaving him open.

He was asked if he thinks the opposition’s game plan is to leave him open on the perimeter.

“I feel particularly open every game we play,” Green said. “So, yeah, I do. I’m pretty sure I’ll stay particularly open. That probably won’t change.”

Golden State kept its lead around the double-digit mark throughout. On makes and misses, the Warriors pushed the ball up the floor constantly, putting pressure on Utah’s defense.

But the Jazz made a run and chipped away at the deficit, trimming it to as low as six early in the third quarter. The Warriors briefly took back the momentum when Andre Iguodala got the ball up the floor in transition and threw it behind his back for a trailing Durant for a vicious one-handed throwdown that put Golden State up 13.

Utah tried one final time, going on a late 7-0 run to pull to within seven with two minutes left. However, on the Warriors’ next possession, Durant drew a double-team in the post and returned the favor to his teammate by finding a cutting Iguodala under the basket for an easy two.

That would do it for the Jazz.

“They’re a great team,” Curry said. “You have to expect certain mini-runs and a fight out of them. Obviously, we’d love to take a 15-point lead and turn it into 20, 25, but they’re not going to quit.”

Gordon Hayward had a game-high 33 points for Utah.

The Warriors shot 49 percent from the field and were 14-of-31 from 3-point range. Iguodala scored 10 points off the bench.

A scary moment occurred for the Warriors with 7:24 left in the fourth, when Green went down to the hardwood with an apparent knee injury. He landed awkwardly after a defensive stop on Rudy Gobert and stayed on the floor momentarily.

When he finally rose to his feet, he departed to the locker room for a further evaluation before returning a few minutes later with what the team called a left-knee tweak. Brown said Green was fine.

“I knew my knee was just locking up a little bit,” Green said. “I had it before. A little tweak. It wasn’t like this huge sigh of relief because I kind of knew exactly what it was from the jump. But it’s always good to know you’re OK.”

The series shifts to Salt Lake City for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday.

“I expect it to be a hostile environment,” Green said. “It always is. They cheer pretty loud for their team. Obviously with a few things that went on this past week, it’ll probably be a bit [more] hostile.”


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