Jazz try to continue mastery of Warriors
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SALT LAKE CITY -- If the beginning of the season feels like a familiar scenario for Golden State, there's a reason behind it.
Finding a way to catch the Warriors and topple their NBA dynasty once again served as an offseason focus for teams around the league including the Utah Jazz, who host Golden State on Friday night.
Would-be challengers made trades and signed free agents to stockpile enough talent to close the gap. Golden State didn't sit around relaxing. The Warriors went out and added a few key pieces of their own, creating a bit of a new dynamic early in the 2018-19 season.
"One of the best things about coaching is each team is unique to itself," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Thursday's practice. "Sometimes, you get a similar group like last year where there's a lot of carryover, so there's as not as much of an adjustment. But most years there's a new dynamic and things you have to sort through and figure out and players you have to figure out. That's one of the things that makes it fun and challenging."
One team didn't do much to change and that team, the Jazz, gave Golden State fits a year ago.
Utah won three straight games over Golden State in the 2017-18 season. The Jazz prevailed in both home games, winning by an average of 35 points. Utah also scored an average of 124 points against the Warriors in those two contests.
The Jazz were the only NBA team to beat Golden State three times last season.
The Warriors hit the ground running with a 108-100 victory over Oklahoma City in their opener Tuesday. Stephen Curry had 32 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, while Kevin Durant added 27 points and eight boards.
Golden State never trailed during the first half, but struggled to hold the Thunder at bay in the third and and fourth quarter.
"We have the foundation under us," Kerr said. "Now it's a matter of pumping up the minutes and getting over the hump to where we're still moving, cutting, and defending after 25 minutes."
Utah experienced a similar situation in its 123-117 victory over Sacramento in its season opener Wednesday.
The Jazz fell behind 25-9 in the first quarter before recovering to take a 68-55 halftime lead. The Kings rallied again in the third quarter, before Utah pulled away. Strong bench play rescued the Jazz from suffering an embarrassing defeat.
Utah got 39 combined points from reserves Jae Crowder, Alec Burks and Dante Exum -- much of it coming in that pivotal second quarter.
"We came out flat, and they came out with something to prove," Utah guard Donovan Mitchell told the team's official website after the game. "Our second squad came in and really lifted our energy and picked it up for us. Not every game is going to be easy, but we reacted and pulled it out."
Mitchell finished with a team-high 24 points against Sacramento. Joe Ingles added 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting.
Updated October 18, 2018