Oakland, Calif. • Jamaal Tinsley answered the call. So did the Jazz — initially. Then reality set in. And with Utah bandaged and weary just 21 games into a lockout-shortened season, the Jazz will now return to Salt Lake City attempting to unearth some form of momentum before hitting the road for a two-month test that could define their fortune this year.
Utah was blown out 119-101 by the Golden State Warriors on Thursday at Oracle Arena.
Jazz-Warriors box score: http://bit.ly/yImIcl
Gordon Hayward scored 21 points to top the Jazz (12-9), who have dropped two consecutive games and four of six. Josh Howard and Al Jefferson added 19 points apiece.
Jefferson took the loss hard and acknowledged Utah is dealing with its first real challenge this season. He’s not concerned about the Jazz’s overall roster or talent level, pointing out Utah took the Los Angeles Clippers to the limit Wednesday during a last-minute, two-point home loss. But with his ailing team in need of healthy bodies and finally on opponents’ radar, Jefferson knows the Jazz must stick together as their schedule becomes tougher.
“No excuses. You’ve just got to be ready, man,” Jefferson said. “It’s part of the game. It’s part of what we have to do. You can’t sit back and complain about it because nobody is going to care anyway. You’ve just got to continue to go on and keep fighting.”
Monta Ellis’ game-high 33 points topped Golden State (8-12), while Stephen Curry added 29.
The Warriors led by 23 late in the game, dished out 23 assists and only committed eight turnovers, and Golden State outscored Utah 71-55 during the second half.
“We really, in the second half, separated ourselves offensively,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We executed, we took care of the basketball, we limited their second-chance opportunities, we defended. A thing of beauty: unselfish basketball.”
While Golden State was lifted by Curry’s return — he missed Utah’s 88-87 road win Jan. 7 due to an ankle injury — the Jazz only had 10 active players and one true point guard. Starting point guard Devin Harris and shooting guard Raja Bell were out due to injuries, as was backup point guard Earl Watson.
With Harris a late scratch due to a strained left hamstring, all eyes suddenly turned to Tinsley. He caught the stares and reflected back cool veteran poise, scoring nine points, distributing a game-high 13 assists, grabbing six rebounds and collecting two steals in 34 minutes, 18 seconds of prime-time action. He also kept Utah within 73-71 with 3:31 left in the third quarter.
“Like I told y’all from the beginning, there’s certain things I can’t control,” said Tinsley, who last started in the NBA on Nov. 30. 2009 for Memphis. “But I can always control being ready, being in shape and just waiting for my number to be called, and just going out there and playing hard for 48 minutes.”
Tinsley was solid from the opening tip. He recorded six points, seven assists and four rebounds during the first half. He was within one point and one assist of a double-double midway through the third quarter. And he balanced old-school moves — a behind-the-back, no-look heave to Jefferson — with confident command of Utah’s offensive system.
“My game speaks for itself,” Tinsley said.
Still, all the Jazz had at the point were the 33-year-old Tinsley — a nine-year veteran who entered the game averaging 0.9 points in 5 minutes — and 20-year-old rookie Alec Burks.
Golden State had speedy, high-volume shooters in Curry and Ellis. With the quick-handed duo firing and slicing, the Warriors found their form at the same time Utah returned to reality.
Golden State marked the start of a two-month road test for Utah. The Jazz will play 22 of 34 games through April 2 away from EnergySolutions Arena.
Utah’s entering its journey bandaged and out of sync, still searching for an identity at the same time comparable teams are just starting to hit their stride.
“We can’t start to panic, especially going out on this road,” Utah forward C.J. Miles said. “We’re going to need everybody to be together. … We can’t point no fingers at anybody. We can’t get mad, can’t get frustrated. You can’t try and do everything on your own.”
Warriors 119, Jazz 101
R In short • The Jazz start strong but fall apart late, losing to Golden State on the road Thursday.
Key stat • Utah point guard Jamaal Tinsley records a game-high 13 assists, to go along with nine points and six rebounds in his first start.