San Francisco • The jumbotron hanging from the roof of the Warriors’ new Chase Center features traditional box score-type numbers on top, while the section below rotates between team stats, team notes and advanced stats.
The game ops crew may, at some point, re-think displaying the latter, considering the not-exactly-flattering numbers that keep appearing in the “Warriors’ defensive rating” area: 131.5, 129.0, 130.8, et cetera, et cetera.
Golden State came into Monday night’s game ranked as the league’s worst defensive unit, and the Jazz did their part to help the Warriors maintain their position, rolling to a 122-108 victory.
Rudy Gobert’s steady domination inside of the Warriors’ overmatched front line resulted in a 25-point, 14-rebound effort, while Donovan Mitchell’s second-quarter 3-point barrage paved the way for a 23-point, eight-rebound, six-assist night, as the Jazz improved to 7-3 on the season.
“It’s very hard to guard when we play that way, and when we move the ball like we did, and when we attack like we did. It’s fun,” Gobert said. “It’s only been 10 games together, but we’re getting better and better. I’m excited for the future.”
Utah consistently took advantage of Golden State’s confusion on perimeter switches, raining down 3-pointers with impunity, to the tune of a 16-for-35 effort from beyond the arc.
The interior defense wasn’t much better, as the Jazz constantly gained entry to the paint, went to the hoop, drew fouls, and earned trips to the free-throw line, where they wound up making 26 of 32 for the game.
With the Jazz spreading the ball around and registering 30 assists on 40 made baskets, the Warriors never did seem capable of slowing them down.
“This is one of those games where everything is clicking and we just had it going — we shot well from 3, able to break the paint, we moved the ball well,” Mitchell said. “If we can just continue to build on that, we’ll be in good shape.”
Of course, it wasn’t a ridiculously lopsided affair the entire time.
Golden State actually had strong stretches in the opening quarter, mostly thanks to its own offensive prowess.
At one point, new addition D’Angelo Russell — who came in with three straight games of 30-plus points — buried four consecutive triples to turn a 17-10 Jazz lead into a 22-17 Warriors advantage.
Russell wound up with 18 points in the first quarter, and Utah led only by a 34-30 margin at the period’s end.
And honestly, the Warriors didn’t slow down much from there.
A team bereft of offensive stars Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson managed to consistently puncture the Jazz’s top-rated defense, mostly as a result of shooting 55.6% from two-point range for the game. Russell wound up leading the Warriors with 31 points and eight assists.
But a Jazz team that came in ranked 28th in the league in offensive rating had zero problems outpacing even Golden State’s prodigious production on that end.
The definitive stretch came in the final minutes of the second quarter, when Mitchell saw the Warriors too often give him too-open looks. Jordan Poole sagging off? Drilled it. Big man Willie Cauley-Stein failing to hedge out far enough on a switch? Buried again.
Three Mitchell 3-pointers in a span of 2 1/2 minutes restored the advantage to double-digit territory, and the Jazz were never seriously threatened again.
“We are gradually getting more connected,” said coach Quin Snyder. “There are going to be nights where it clicks a little bit, and tonight was one of those nights.”
Utah wound up seeing seven players finish with double-digit scoring, as Mitchell and Gobert were joined by Mike Conley (22 points and seven assists on 6-of-11 shooting, including 5 of 8 from deep), Bojan Bogdanovic (12), Jeff Green (12), Emmanuel Mudiay (11), and Joe Ingles (11).
And while there was generally brilliant play all-around on that end, the Jazz still came away feeling as though there’s room for improvement yet.
“Tonight was a small example of what we could do. Guys were playing for each other and making the game easier for each other,” Conley said. “Rudy did phenomenal screening and rolling and getting open looks in the post. Don and Jeff and everybody else made plays for each other, like Joe. Bogey didn’t even shoot that well tonight, so it was a game that had he shot well, we probably would’ve done a little better.”
Mitchell was likewise considering what could be with everyone operating at peak efficiency.
“We had a good game tonight, but imagine when things are clicking for all of us,” he said. “I think that’s what’s really keeping us moving, because we have way more to improve on the offensive end. But nights like this get you really excited because of the potential we have.”