Andrei Kirilenko scored 14 points and blocked five shots for the Jazz, who never trailed in their second superb performance of the young season. Utah shot nearly 59 percent, played solid defense and made a prolonged run in the second half to snap a four-game losing streak in Oakland.
McLeod led the way with an surprisingly poised performance for an undrafted second-year pro making his second NBA start. He was hoping to make the roster as Utah’s third point guard—but after preseason injuries to Carlos Arroyo and Raul Lopez, he went 7-for-8 from the field and flawlessly ran the Jazz offense.
“I didn’t really think about it,” McLeod said of his shooting. “I was always worrying about the next possession. Things happen during the season, and guys have to be ready.”
McLeod played 33 games with Minnesota last season, and Kevin Garnett boosted his confidence with constant encouragement. After Mo Williams left the Jazz for an offer sheet in Milwaukee last August, McLeod signed up—and after a rocky preseason, he has played well in wins over the Lakers and Golden State.
“He struggled in the early part of the exhibition season because we asked him to do quite a few things,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “He’s worked very hard, and it’s nice to see a person like that get an opportunity to play. That’s what this league is about for me. Some guys get 40-50 million dollars, and they don’t want to play.”
Derek Fisher scored 15 of his 17 points in the second quarter for the Warriors, who lost their second straight with little help from Troy Murphy and Jason Richardson. They signed six-year contract extensions this week worth a combined $128 million, but shot a combined 6-for-28 against the Jazz.
Utah closed the third quarter on a 25-10 run, with McLeod hitting four jumpers and Boozer controlling the paint. Kirilenko, who has 13 blocked shots in just two games, led their defense against Golden State’s sluggish offense.
“We didn’t have a lot of energy, and they gave it to us,” Murphy said. “They move well without the ball. Jerry Sloan has been there a long time, and they do it as well as anybody in the league. We strive to run our motion as well as theirs, and I think we can get there.”
The Jazz jumped to an 18-point lead in the first quarter with exceptional outside shooting, but Fisher rallied the Warriors with 6-of-7 shooting in the second. After Utah’s prolonged third-quarter run, Golden State scored just two points in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the fourth.
The Warriors struggled to match Portland’s pure athletic abilities in a loss Wednesday night, but they also couldn’t match up with Utah’s precision and discipline. The Jazz’s sharp passing gave them countless open shots, and they scored most of their points from the perimeter.
Golden State’s Mike Montgomery dropped to 0-2 in the NBA after 18 seasons at Stanford, where he coached Utah big men Curtis Borchardt and Jarron Collins. Montgomery dropped by the Jazz locker room before the game to say hello.
“They sliced and diced us pretty good,” Montgomery said. “They really run their stuff. I sure like that. They know how to play basketball. They cut, they know where everybody is, and they play with a tremendous amount of confidence.”
Warriors rookie Andris Biedrins made his NBA debut midway through the fourth quarter. He got his first point on a free throw with 5:57 to play, and a small crowd of Latvian fans chanted his name.
Utah rookie Kirk Snyder also got his first points on a jumper late in the fourth.
Seven players scored at least nine points for the Jazz. … Golden State has lost its last 19 road games in Utah. The Warriors visit Salt Lake City just once this season, on April 1. … The Warriors host the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night in rare back-to-back home games.