The Warriors on Friday used a familiar formula, taking a lead, losing it before halftime and rallying late, breaking hearts of their opponents and their fans.
The victim this time was the Jazz, who dominated stretches of the game but couldn't hold off the Warriors when it counted. The Dubs, behind 77-68 with 8:55 to play, outscored Utah 27-13 the rest of the way for a 95-90 win at Energy Solutions Arena.
Point guard Stephen Curry scored 13 of those 27 points, 30 in the second half and finished with a game- and season-high 44. It was one of those nights that illustrated his immense value.
"He got hot,'' Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "He was shooting it from deep. He would come down in transition, guys running at him and he was still making them. We tried to double him, we gave him different looks and we were chasing him off screens. He's a great shooter in this league.''
The Warriors were without power forward David Lee, out nursing his sprained shoulder and sore hip; he'd taken anti-inflammatory shots before the previous two games. Curry understood what he needed to do, as did center Andrew Bogut.
So they took appropriate action. Curry went 20 points over his scoring average and often was a one-man offense. Bogut finished with 16 points, 17 rebounds, five assists (a team high) and three blocks.
"I wasn’t trying to go out there and pick up the scoring because David is out,'' Bogut said. "I just let the game come to me. I got some open looks from Steph, because he was on fire out there.''
Curry made 14 of 26 shots, including 8 of 13 from 3-point distance. He continued to scorch the nets, as he had in Thursday night's home win over the Clippers, against whom he missed only two shots en route to 22 points.
"I had a couple heat checks from (Thursday) night,'' Curry said. "I shot the ball well and started off the game (Friday) on the same pace, stretched the defense that way.''
And yet, the Warriors (29-19) could not have won without a massive defensive effort in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter, when they forced more turnovers (nine) than Utah made baskets (six). The primary irritants were forward Draymond Green (four steals) and Bogut.
"Bogs was outstanding, Draymond gave us great minutes and Steph was Steph,'' coach Mark Jackson said.
The Warriors started fast, hit the high-altitude wall and looked tired late in the second half. They revived themselves in the third quarter and finished with a rush.
And there were, of course, the fabulous individual efforts of Curry and Bogut.
With Lee out, it was reasonable to expect at least one of the wings – Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes – to make an impact on offense. None did, as the three combined to shoot 16.7 percent (6 of 36). They should buy Curry's next three dinners.
The second night of back-to-back games are grinders, as much about will as about talent or skill. The Warriors are 4-5 in such games because they sometimes find enough to finish such poor to mediocre clubs as the Jazz. This one is a keeper, not only because it was the first time the Warriors have won successive games in more than three weeks but also because they did so without getting much from several key players.