Jazz-Warriors preview

If you’re looking for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA standings, look higher than usual.

They come into Wednesday’s game at EnergySolutions Arena rocking an 18-10 record, the second-best record in the Pacific Division, a group that includes the traditionally-dominating L.A. Lakers.

Before Christmas, the Warriors fell to the Lakers 118-115. Prior to that, however, they’d won eight of their last 10.

Guard Stephen Curry leads Golden State, averaging 20.2 points and 6.4 assists per game.  Forward David Lee is averaging an even 20 points and 11.3 rebounds this season.

Lee has scored in double figures in 25 straight games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound effort in the Warriors’ Dec. 22 loss to the Lakers.

The Jazz and Warriors met in the preseason but have yet to meet during the regular season.

Utah has won 10 of its last 12 home meetings with the Warriors, but center Al Jefferson said Golden State is a different team this season.

“They’ve got their confidence up, they believe in themselves and they’re playing well,” he said. “They’re a very unselfish team. They move the ball well. Guys give up open shots to get a better shot. That’s how you have to play basketball.”

The Warriors are averaging 22.9 assists per game, that’s good enough for fifth in the NBA, behind only the Spurs, Clippers, Celtics and Heat.

The Jazz (15-14) come into Wednesday’s game tied with Denver for third place in the Northwest Division. They’re coming off a 2-2 performance in their annual pre-Christmas road trip which saw wins at Brooklyn and Orlando and losses at Indiana and Miami.

Utah will play without starting point guard Mo Williams, who will miss his second consecutive game with a severely sprained right thumb.

Jamaal Tinsley will take over the starting spot, with Earl Watson and Randy Foye filling in from there.

“I’ve said this before, but I think we’ve got to play a full 48 minutes,” guard Gordon Hayward said. “We have times where we’ll play really good for a stretch of the game and then other times when we look pretty bad. We’ve got to make sure we have a consistent effort the whole game. If we can play 48 minutes of Jazz basketball, I think we’ll be pretty good.”

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About Jim Burton

Jim Burton has worked for the Standard-Examiner since 1991. He has covered everything from the preps to Utah, BYU, Weber State and the Ogden Raptors. Currently he is the Standard's Utah Jazz beatwriter and its sports columnist.
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