SALT LAKE CITY -- Warriors center Marquese Chriss grimaced as he grabbed his leg, but he and the Warriors did not want an opportunity to earn rare win slip away because of a banged knee.
A collision with Jazz guard Emmanuel Mudiay sent Chriss limping to the locker room with a left knee contusion. Shortly after, Chriss checked back into the game. The Warriors (5-21) lost to the Jazz 114-106 Friday at Vivint Smart Home Arena, but not without showing grit.
Without forwards Draymond Green (rest) and Eric Paschall (hip), the Warriors leaned on lineups anchored by developmental prospects. Chriss, second-year guard Jacob Evans and two-way guard Damion Lee combined to score 46 of Golden State's 106 points.
Golden State got out to a 39-29 lead midway through the second quarter, but the Jazz (14-11) answered with an 8-2 spurt to cut into the lead. Then the Warriors used an 8-0 run to extend the lead to 50-37. After Jazz forward Joe Ingles' jumper, Chriss blocked a Royce O'Neal layup and finished the play with a two-handed dunk. The Warriors went into halftime leading 56-49.
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell's tip-in tied the game at 62 midway through the third quarter. When Chriss went to the locker room, the Warriors led by one, 83-82.
The Warriors made costly mistakes in a one possession game. Down 106-104 with 1:38 remaining, center Willie Cauley-Stein missed a dunk and guard Alec Burks stepped out of bounds as the Warriors came up empty on back-to-back possessions.
Mitchell scored five points in the final minute and a half, and Russell's missed 22-foot jumper with 33 seconds left sealed the win for the Jazz.
The loss again showed commendable fight from a Warriors team, only to result in a moral victory.
In an addition to Chriss playing through a could-be injury, Lee took a hard fall midway through the third period but checked in one possession later. Lee finished with 21 points in his second game back after missing 14 games with a fractured right hand.
Chriss finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks in an energetic 23 minutes. Evans, in his third appearance after missing 21 games with a hip injury, recorded 13 points, two rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes.
Forward Bojan Bogdanovic paced the Jazz with 32 points on 8-of-18 shooting, while Mitchell finished with 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting. Center Rudy Gobert logged 15 points and 15 rebounds.
As Golden State repositions its season to embrace development, the performance should be encouraging. Evans got minutes to knock off some rust, as did Kevon Looney (two points and four rebounds in 18 minutes). Lee got back on track what had been a strong scoring season prior to his injury, and Chriss continued to make his case to be part of the Warriors' future.
Still, it's the 17th loss in 20 games for the Warriors, who continue to let opportunities in winnable games get away. While the individual growth is commendable, and important, it's clear the next step is finding ways to execute as a team in crunch time, when the stakes are highest.
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