The Weekly Run is a Salt Lake Tribune newsletter on the Utah Jazz. Subscribe here.
Oakland, Calif. • For all of the second and third quarters, and parts of the first and fourth, on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena, the Jazz were having tremendous success against the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Trouble is, as they all acknowledged afterward, that isn’t enough against that team.
“They played their game plan longer than we played ours. And that was the outcome of the game. We didn’t play our game plan, we didn’t play the way we wanted to play for a full 48 minutes,” said Jae Crowder. “Tip your hat to those guys — they played the way they wanted to play for a longer period of time, and came out with the win.”
Donovan Mitchell noted afterward that it was a series of “just little mistakes … a few missed shots … some turnovers we shouldn’t have had” at both the game’s beginning and end that proved costly.
The Jazz wound up 1-2 against the Warriors this season, though all three games were hard-fought and close — a one-point loss on a last-second tip-in in the second game of the season; a five-point victory in the December rematch; and then Tuesday’s 115-108 decision.
While an extra victory or two would have been preferable, Utah’s players did at least come away with some level of confidence after the series of close contests.
“We battled every game. We have a good matchup against them, but they’re the best team in the league right now, so it’s hard,” said Ricky Rubio. “You gotta have a perfect game to really beat them. We have to keep doing what we do and improving on our game.”
Week in review
• Before the Jazz’s loss in Oakland on Tuesday night, Warriors coach Steve Kerr discussed the circumstances that led to Rudy Gobert’s exclusion from the All-Star Game this weekend. [TRIB]
• The lead-up to the game was full off discussion about the ongoing war of words between Gobert and Golden State’s Draymond Green, who had suggested the Jazz center might lose his mental edge over some opponents after wiping away tears in a media session while discussing his All-Star snub. [TRIB]
• Ekpe Udoh’s book club got an online shout-out from the author of one of the books under consideration for his group’s discussion — former First Lady Michelle Obama. [TRIB]
• In order to beat the Spurs’ gimmick triangle-and-two defense last Saturday, the Jazz went super-small, with Royce O’Neale at the four. But how often might such a lineup be employed going forward? [TRIB]
• After standing pat at the trade deadline, the Jazz will have much to prove — both to themselves and to the rest of the league, wrote columnist Gordon Monson. [TRIB]
• Ekpe’s Book Club hosted another famous female last week, with Jazz owner Gail Miller stopping by to discuss her book and her life. Her comments about being a businesswoman and about having undergone therapy, in particular, drew a fair amount of attention. [TRIB]
• Though the NBA trade deadline feels a ways away now, it was looming large as the hours and minutes ticked away last week. Andy B. Larsen wrote about the team ultimately sticking with what it has after failing to acquire Mike Conley from Memphis. [TRIB]
• When the Suns came to Salt Lake City last week, the reunion of coaches Quin Snyder and Igor Kokoskov went far beyond the X’s and O’s of a single basketball game. [TRIB]
• Deseret News writer Eric Woodyard chronicled how, 10 years before Tuesday’s matchup in Oakland, the Jazz’s Derrick Favors and the Warriors’ DeMarcus Cousins were battling in a high school game in Alabama. [DesNews]
• The latest NBA power rankings from The Athletic have the Jazz at No. 11: “Their defense is top notch once again, and their offense has brief bouts of competency. It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for their offensive output, but at times it feels like a crappy product being sold on an infomercial.” (Note: Content from The Athletic requires either a free trial sign-up or a subscription.) [The Athletic]
• The Jazz have a recurring feature called “Kid Picasso” in which children draw their favorite player, and then the players try to figure out who it is. It’s been known to get entertaining. [Twitter]
• Rockets point guard Chris Paul moved into eighth place on the NBA’s career assists list on Monday. Afterward, he acknowledged to Washington Post writer Ben Golliver, among others, that it would be pretty much impossible — for him or anyone — to catch No. 1 on the list, John Stockton: “I don’t like saying never, but ain’t nobody catching that. I don’t know who the statisticians were, who used to do the stats in Utah, but ain’t nobody catching that.” [Twitter]
• Tavan Parker of SLCDunk.com took a look at the games the Jazz have left after the All-Star break, and suggests that a 50-win season is not out of the realm of possibilities. [SLCDunk]
Quote of the week
Speaking of the All-Star break, Rudy Gobert was asked after the Warriors game if he appreciated Donovan Mitchell saying he was prioritizing the team’s stretch run by not participating in the Slam Dunk Contest this year:
“I think that’s great. He’s still going out there, he’s still gonna be out there, but it’s great for him to be able to take all the distractions away a little bit and focus on himself. When you’re young and in the NBA, you’re excited, you want to do everything, you gotta enjoy it, but at the same time, he’s not a superhero … I mean, he’s Spida-Man, but he’s not a superhero. You gotta take care of yourself and recover.”
Mitchell is the Jazz’s lone representative in All-Star festivities this weekend, as he’ll take part in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday. Beyond that, the team doesn’t play again until Feb. 22 in Oklahoma City.