They didn’t take them by surprise.
As the Utah Jazz headed into Sunday night’s game in Oakland, Calif., they knew exactly what it would take to pull out a win against the Golden State Warriors.
“It starts with Steph,” guard Alec Burks said of the Warriors’ All-Star point guard, Steph Curry.
But Curry and his backcourt partner Klay Thompson did take the Jazz by storm. The so-called Splash Brothers — a duo Golden State coach Mark Jackson has called the best shooting backcourt in NBA history — put on a show against the woeful Jazz, combining for 64 points in a 130-102 blowout win.
The victory marked the first time Golden State has ever swept the season series with the Jazz.
Curry hit on five of his 10 attempts from 3-point range, while Thompson connected on seven of his 10 from distance. Curry also put his playmaking abilities on display, dishing 16 assists in the game.
Since the season tipped off, tanking has been a hot topic around the league — and especially among cellar-dwelling teams like the Jazz. Fans have embraced defeat, knowing that each loss would help the team improve its odds in the lottery.
But Sunday was a chance to break from the norm.
A win might have actually helped Utah’s draft position.
The Jazz own Golden State’s first-round pick and, unlikely as it might be, a late-season collapse could still knock the Warriors into the lottery, bumping the pick up from the mid-20s and into the top 14.
But Utah couldn’t even nudge the Warriors down that path.
From the outset, the Warriors got what they wanted.
Golden State held a 66-52 advantage at halftime. Thompson, one of the league’s deadliest shooters, found himself alone behind the arc plenty as he scored 16 of his game-high 33 points in the second quarter.
And in the third quarter, the Warriors took over. Golden State outscored the Jazz 35-21 in the period, to pull away for good.
The Jazz got fine stat lines from two of their own guards.
Rookie Trey Burke scored 24 points and dished 15 assists. And backup shooting guard Alec Burks dropped in 24 points of his own, connecting on 14 of 16 free throws.
But the effort was in vain as the Jazz fell to 24-53 on the year.
Utah remains a game ahead of the Lakers for the fifth-best lottery odds and a game behind the Celtics for the fourth-best as the season draws to its close.
As for the Warriors’ pick, which belongs to Utah by way of the trade that sent Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and the newly waived Andris Biedrins to the Jazz last summer, it would come in at No. 23 if the draft were today. The Warriors are in a bit of unrest, having removed two assistant coaches — one fired and another assigned to the D-League — over the last two weeks. But with a 11/2-game lead over Dallas for the sixth spot, Golden State seems to be headed for the postseason.