Shooters shoot, even when they're struggling.
After starting 2-of-12 from three-point range during Monday's game against the Utah Jazz, Stephen Curry drilled one from deep with 13.4 seconds remaining to give the Golden State Warriors the lead for good at Chase Center.
Golden State held on for a 119-116 victory and improved to 36-33 overall and 5-1 in the last six games with a third straight win.
A valiant late effort from Jordan Clarkson fell short as Utah attempted to overcome an 11-point deficit with under five minutes remaining, although he missed a potential go-ahead shot and game-tying three in the final 10 seconds.
Impressive showings from him and Bojan Bogdanovic weren't enough for the Jazz, who fell to 50-19 as their five-game winning streak came to an end.
Notable Player Stats
- Stephen Curry, G, GS: 36 PTS, 6 AST, 4 REB, 2 STL
- Kent Bazemore, F, GS: 19 PTS, 4 REB
- Jordan Poole, G, GS: 20 PTS
- Draymond Green, F, GS: 12 PTS, 10 AST, 6 REB, 2 STL
- Jordan Clarkson, G, UTA: 41 PTS, 7 REB
- Bojan Bogdanovic, F, UTA: 27 PTS, 6 REB
Steph Bolsters Scoring Title Chance in Dramatic Win
The game within the game for the Warriors at this point is whether Curry will win the scoring title.
After averaging 37.3 points per game in April and reaching the 30-point mark in his team's first five games in May, he entered play at 31.9 points per game compared to Bradley Beal's 31.4. The Washington Wizards star is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Curry took full advantage with 36 points, although it didn't come via his typical three-point barrage due in large part to Royce O'Neale's perimeter defense.
Still, Curry consistently broke down defenders off the dribble, got into the lane and finished with a soft touch, even with two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert attempting to cut off his driving lanes.
All the attention he drew opened up looks for others, and five Warriors finished in double figures. Draymond Green provided more of a scoring boost than usual, Kent Bazemore slashed into those openings and Jordan Poole provided a much-needed spark off the bench that included a half-court buzzer-beater to end the third quarter.
Despite all that, the Warriors nearly blew their commanding lead in the final minutes.
Fittingly, the two-time MVP shook off his initial shooting slump and played the role of hero with the late three that further bolstered his efforts on his way to a second career scoring title.
Lack of Balance Too Much to Overcome for Jazz Despite Clarkson's Push
If these teams do play in the postseason, things will be different from Utah's perspective.
After all, the starting backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley was out for Monday's contest, which put more of the onus on the supporting cast and wing shooters. Bogdanovic was up for the task out of the gates and caught fire from deep to keep his team within striking distance in the first half.
It was just striking distance and not the lead, though, because others struggled.
In fact, nobody but Clarkson and Bogdanovic scored more than 10 points, as Joe Ingles was quiet as a primary ball-handler without the guards and Gobert focused primarily on controlling the boards.
Even Clarkson started an ugly 0-of-8 from deep as Bogdanovic spearheaded the early effort.
However, Clarkson poured in 24 points in the final quarter for the visitors and even gave them the lead with a step-back three with just more than a minute remaining. He was on the verge of one of the best closing performances of the season, but Curry provided the late answer just in time for Golden State.
Still, the good news for the Jazz is Clarkson and Bogdanovic look ready to take full advantage of the open looks they should receive when Mitchell and Conley are back drawing defenders in during the playoffs.
The Warriors remain at home to face the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, while the Jazz host the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.