Golden State will have to wait for another day before it sees an ‘X’ next to its name in the Western Conference standings.
The Warriors went into Sunday’s game against Utah with a chance to clinch a postseason berth, but the Jazz looked every bit like a team fighting for its postseason life in a 97-90 win at Oracle Arena.
“We knew what the situation was,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “In front of our fans and you win, you’re in and you can focus on getting better as the season goes on. The last five games knowing you have the ‘X’ by your name, but now we have work to do.
“We still control our own situation, which is good, but you don’t want to have this feeling again.”
Utah (41-37) capitalized on a Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Clippers earlier in the day and moved into the No. 8 spot in the West -- a half-game ahead of the Lakers. Golden State’s magic number remains at two and can be reduced to zero on Tuesday with a win against Minnesota and a Lakers loss to New Orleans.
A Lakers win coupled with a Jazz loss at home to Oklahoma City on Tuesday would again leave Utah on the outside looking in.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson didn’t get the feeling his team played with much urgency Sunday.
“We played, at times, like a team that had a cushion,” he said. “I think that was the bottom line.”
It appeared Utah was ready to cruise after taking a 91-80 lead on a Gordon Hayward three with four minutes, 20 seconds left, but Golden State made things interesting down the stretch. Klay Thompson and Curry hit back-to-back threes to pull within five with 3:16 left before a tip-in from Draymond Green cut it to 91-88 moments later.
Until that point, Green had played just two minutes in the game, but Jackson had no reservations about bringing him in.
“It doesn’t matter. He is a big-time defender that understands the principles and I have no problem putting him in the ballgame,” Jackson said. “He displayed what we needed.”
Green admitted it can be tough to come in after not playing and be effective right away, especially when given a tough assignment.
The message he received from the coaching staff?
“It was just to go in there and stop Al Jefferson, that was pretty much the message,” Green said. “He’s one of the best centers in the game and definitely a tough matchup, but that’s what you’re called to do, so that’s what you have to be ready to do.”
Jefferson, who finished with 19 points, hit a jumper over Green on Utah’s next possession before a bucket inside from David Lee made it 93-90 with 1:21 left. Golden State (44-33) wouldn’t score again.
Jarrett Jack missed a potential game-tying three with 35 seconds left and Mo Williams knocked down a dagger three 20 seconds later to essentially end the game.
“We thought they may foul us so we wanted to have the ball in (Williams’) hands,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They switched the big guy off on him, we got it down in the shot clock and he made a big shot for us.”
Curry scored 22 points -- 17 in the first half -- to lead Golden State, while Thompson (20) and Lee (21) also had big games to give the Warriors a chance.
With Houston idle, Golden State’s lead over the Rockets for the No. 6 seed was trimmed to one game with five games left in the regular season.
Golden State led by as many as seven in the second quarter, 38-31, before the Jazz went on a 25-8 run to take control.
Williams led the Jazz with 25 points, while Derrick Favors has 12 points and 13 rebounds off the bench.
- Utah takes the season series from Golden state, 2-1. Its third series win against the Warriors in the last four years.
- Golden State outshot Utah .473-.455 to marking the tenth time this season it has lost despite finishing with a better shooting percentage.
- David Lee’s double-double (21 points, 13 rebounds) upped his NBA-leading total to 52.
Next Up – Minnesota (29-57), Tuesday 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors will look to finish off a four-game season sweep of Minnesota at home on Tuesday. Timberwolves coach Rick Adleman picked up career win No. 1,000 in the team’s 107-101 win against Detroit on Saturday.
Minnesota has won three of four and is two games over .500 since March 22 (6-4).