OAKLAND -- The Utah Jazz are grasping at straws. After another tough defeat at the hands of the high-powered Golden State Warriors, the series shifts to Utah for Game 3 and it’s back to the drawing board for Quin Snyder and his staff.
“You’re encouraged about some of the things you did,” Snyder said of whether his team should be encouraged or discouraged heading back home 0-2. “I wouldn’t use the word discouraged as much as we need to be more determined to play better other aspects of the game”
Snyder had to lead his team into battle without his starting point guard George Hill, who missed the contest with a toe injury. With Hill ailing, reserve guard Shelvin Mack picked up the start and posted a solid game for Utah. Mack shot 4-for-11 from the field on his way to 14 points and four assist in the loss.
“He was aggressive, he competed, you could see the effort and the intensity,” Snyder said. “That’s all you want is a guy to go out and leave it out there and compete and that’s what he did.”
After a quiet Game 1, Gordon Hayward came to play. Hayward finished the opener with just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting, but he looked like a completely different player in Game 2.
The All-Star wing went off late, scoring 21 of his 33 points in the second half. He shot 11-of-21 from the field, including three makes from behind the 3-point stripe and he managed to add four assists and grab five rebounds.
Utah has yet to take a lead in either of the first two games. They trailed 33-15 at the end of the first quarter and spent the next 36 minutes trying to dig out of the hole.
“After we got blitzed there in the first quarter, once we settled in, we kind of figured it out a little bit,” Hayward said. “We figured out how to get it into the paint and get some shots for ourselves - some better looks. Our spacing was a lot better and we’re going to have to try and take that and move forward with it.”
Like Hayward, big man Rudy Gobert had a tough first game against Golden State. Known for his ability to block shots, Gobert has had to adjust to playing against a myriad of different looks from the Warriors.
The 7-foot-1 center aggressively attacked the Warriors on the offensive end, scoring 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He added 16 rebounds, but failed to block a shot in his 37 minutes on the court.
“First of all, I’m feeling better physically,” Gobert said. “I had a few injuries last series, but I’m just feeling better and you kind of get used to playing these guys and their physicality. So every game we try and get better and I feel like I’m feeling better every game.”
Following the Warriors win, the series shifts to Utah where the Jazz will host Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Monday with the hopes to staving off elimination.
“Definitely excited to play in front of our fans, I know they’ll be excited to have us and we’re going to need them,” Hayward said. “They’ll be really important for us. They always bring us a lot of energy and it will be fun playing in front of our fans.”
The Jazz haven’t been home in a while after finishing their series on the road on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers. They’ll need to take at least one game in Utah if they hope to get back to Oracle Arena for a Game 5 late next week.