SALT LAKE CITY – A putback score by former Jazzman Jonas Jerebko in the final second of Utah’s home opener lifted Golden State over the Jazz, helping his new team escape Salt Lake City with a 124-123 win Friday night.
Utah head coach Quin Snyder said it was obviously a tough way to lose the game, but said his team competed well against the defending champs.
“I don’t think there’s anything we have to hang our heads about,” he said. “I think its an opportunity for us to look at it and get better.”
Golden State’s Kevin Durant, who scored a game-high 38 points, missed his final jumper, allowing Jerebko to get the rebound and game-winner.
“At the end, it was just a scramble play,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. “You can’t really blame that on anybody. We played a good game, throughout the entire game, but obviously it wasn’t enough.”
Utah’s loss came in a game where it at one point had 16-point second-half lead, which was built largely thanks to 10 second-quarter Jazz 3-pointers.
“I think we stopped pushing the ball as fast as we did the first half,” said Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio, who finished the game with a 13-point, 10-assist double-double. “We were probably a little tired. It’s the beginning of the season still.”
Stephen Curry added 31 points for the Warriors while Joe Ingles led Utah with 27 points. Mitchell scored 19, but missed his final eight field goal attempts, including the potential game-winner at the buzzer. Rudy Gobert recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Utah’s big second quarter resulted in 47 points for the period and 81 total at the half. The lead peaked at 98-82 with 5:36 remaining in the third quarter after Mitchell and Jae Crowder put in back-to-back 3-pointers, but Curry and Durant combined to lead the Warriors on a 15-2 run soon after, cutting the deficit to 100-97. Utah entered the fourth quarter with a 103-97 lead after a long Ingles 3-pointer banked in at the buzzer.
Utah was able to regain a double-digit lead with less than 8 minutes remaining in the game, but the Warriors answered with a 13-0 run to take its first lead in the second half.
“We didn’t score like we wanted to in the second half,” Snyder said, “or like we did in the first half. If you’re not scoring against them they are capable of doing it.”
The Jazz hit back-to-back 3s to retake the lead, but it wasn’t long after that Draymond Green and Curry matched with 3s of their own. Crowder put Utah back on top 123-122 with 51.4 seconds remaining, the team’s final lead of the night.
The Warriors improved to 2-0 with the win as the Jazz fell to 1-1.
“I’m going to try my hardest not to get too down on myself,” Mitchell said. “It’s a tough task, but at the same time we have 80 more games left.”