Warriors hold off Jazz 102-88 after O'Neal injury
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Just about everything had gone as planned for the Golden State Warriors at home this season until 11:26 remained in the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
Backup center Jermaine O'Neal slipped along the baseline, spraining his right knee and straining his right groin. The announced sellout crowd of 19,596 hushed, and players and coaches huddled over O'Neal before he was helped off the court.
It was far more drama than the Warriors wanted against the NBA's worst team. Just as they have in the four previous games at home, though, they responded.
Klay Thompson led the way with 25 points, and five others scored in double digits in an all-around effort that helped the Warriors hold off the Jazz 102-88 for their third straight victory - though perhaps its costliest one.
''Jermaine means a lot to this basketball team. He has a voice in the locker room, and we had to regroup,'' Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. ''It's never fun or easy looking at a teammate go down like that. So we pray that everything's fine with him. At the end of the day, we have to have guys that step up and be ready.''
O'Neal will have additional tests on Sunday. The Warriors play at Utah on Monday night, when they hope to duplicate a performance in which they never trailed.
Stephen Curry had 15 points and 11 assists, Andrew Bogut added 12 points and 11 rebounds, David Lee scored 13 and Harrison Barnes chipped in 11 points as the Warriors went ahead by 19 late in the second quarter. The Jazz came back within seven in the third quarter before Golden State pulled away by 20 late in the fourth.
''It's beautiful to watch when we play like that,'' Thompson said.
Derrick Favors finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, and Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams each scored 14 for the Jazz, who fell to an NBA-worst 1-10.
''When you get down, especially to a team like Golden State that can score very quickly, you put yourself in a tough position,'' said Williams, who wore a facemask to protect his broken nose before tossing it aside in the second quarter.
Golden State (7-3) has taken advantage of a favorable home schedule so far this season.
The Warriors are 5-0 at Oracle Arena, with all five opponents playing the night before. Utah lost 91-82 to San Antonio on Friday night in Salt Lake City.
Jackson cautioned his team not to take the Jazz lightly. With the same formula of swarming defense and sharp shooting that has carried the club since its surprising playoff run last spring, Golden State seemed to quickly turn the contest into a predictable rout.
The Warriors held leads of 27-13 after the first quarter and 51-34 at halftime, with Thompson and Iguodala each making three 3-pointers before the break. The defensive intensity stalled in the third quarter, though, and the nothing-to-lose Jazz capitalized.
Hayward's 3-pointer brought Utah within 61-54 with 5:37 remaining in the third. The teams traded baskets before Golden State slowly reasserted itself.
The Warriors outshot the Jazz 51.2 to 45.5 percent and outrebounded them 42 to 32 in a game that had far more drama than they preferred.
''So far we've quote-unquote beaten the teams that we're supposed to beat and we've won games at home,'' Lee said. ''Now we need to go on the road and do the same thing against a Jazz team that's going to come back and want revenge.''
The only damper during the home stand was O'Neal's injury. O'Neal, who has battled numerous knee injuries - the most serious to his left knee - during his 17-year NBA career, was unable to put pressure on his right leg while being helped to the locker room by teammates Draymond Green and Ognjen Kuzmic.
Kuzmic, a 7-foot rookie from Bosnia and Herzegovina, will likely be counted on more if O'Neal misses any significant time. The Warriors also could play power forwards Marreese Speights and Lee at center in a smaller lineup.
The injury is compounded because fellow backup center Festus Ezeli, who appeared in 78 games (41 starts) as a rookie last season, is working back from right knee surgery. He will likely be out until at least February.
For the Jazz, they could at least take solace in pushing a Western Conference contender for the second straight night - a small sign of progress in a season that has had little so far. Utah lost its first eight games this season before beating New Orleans this week.
''The guys are still showing fight in them and were executing at times, but we have to put together longer stretches of it, especially on the road,'' Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. ''This is a good team on their floor and they shoot the ball very well.''
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game for the victims of the typhoon that hit the Philippines as the Warriors hosted ''Filipino Heritage Night.'' ... Williams will try out a redesigned facemask before Monday night's game, though he may play without one. ... The Warriors wore their alternate white short-sleeved jerseys.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP