SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Warriors coach Steve Kerr did not emphasize the magnitude of Saturday’s game in his pregame talk with his team.
He didn’t have to.
Klay Thompson scored 36 points and Golden State erased a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Utah Jazz 111-107 and clinch a playoff spot.
Jordan Poole added 31 and Andrew Wiggins had 17 as the Warriors also snapped a four-game losing streak. At 49-29, they hold a one-game lead over the Dallas Mavericks for the third seed in the Western Conference with four games remaining.
“We’ll do everything we can to just win out,” Warriors guard Gary Payton II said. “That’s our mindset.”
Utah, now tied with Denver for the fifth spot, could have moved to within a game of third place with a victory. Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley each had 26 for the Jazz.
It was an all-too-familiar storyline for the Jazz, who blew a 25-point lead in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. Utah has lost 15 games this season in which it held double-digit leads.
“I don’t think we’re in a good place for the last six minutes (of a game),” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “It’s not a good feeling in the locker room right now because guys want to win.”
Trailing 103-87 with just under eight minutes remaining in the fourth, the Warriors rattled off an 18-0 run to take a 105-103 lead with 2:10 left. Thompson hit three 3-pointers during the stretch.
“It felt like we had enough time, but we didn’t have much momentum,” Kerr said. “… Unbelievable performance down stretch from our guys. I don’t know what else to say.”
The Jazz had a chance to take the lead with 20 seconds remaining but Rudy Gobert threw a pass out of bounds after clearing a rebound. The Warriors put the game away at the free-throw line.
Utah led by as many as 21 in the first half and took a 58-45 lead into the locker room. Mitchell had 17 but he had plenty of help, as Utah’s bench outscored Golden State’s second unit 17-5 over the first two quarters.
Poole scored 19 in the first half for the Warriors, including 14 in the second quarter. Then Thompson heated up in the fourth quarter, whipping the Chase Center crowd into a frenzy with each 3-pointer he made. He was 8 for 17 from long range for the game.
“Dub Nation loves Klay,” Payton said.
Jazz: Conley scored 17 in the second half, hitting several big shots in the third quarter as the Warriors tried eating into Utah’s lead . … Gobert finished with 14 points and 19 rebounds. … Hassan Whiteside entered the game midway through the first quarter, his first action after missing the previous four games with a bone spur fracture in his right foot.
Warriors: Though Stephen Curry is out for the rest of the regular season with a sprained foot, he cheered on his teammates from the sideline. The Warriors are 2-6 since his injury, and 4-10 overall this season when he doesn’t play. … Golden State committed 11 first-half turnovers that led to 17 Utah points. … Kerr said forward Andre Iguodala would sit out Sunday’s game at Sacramento in an effort to keep the veteran fresh for the playoffs. … The Oakland Tech High School girls basketball team, fresh off a Division III state championship, attended the game as guests of the Warriors and received an ovation during a first-quarter timeout.
Jazz: Host Memphis on Tuesday to begin their final homestand of the season.
Warriors: Play at Sacramento on Sunday, looking to sweep the season series.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism