The Golden State Warriors know full well they need to start translating their home dominance to the road to be considered among the elite teams in the NBA.
They have an excellent chance to do just that Monday night when they go for a home-and-home sweep of the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.
It was business as usual for the Warriors at home Saturday night, when they led wire-to-wire en route to a 102-88 victory over the Jazz (1-10). Klay Thompson paced six players in double figures with 25 points as Golden State improved to 5-0 at Oracle Arena, where it is averaging 110.8 points while shooting 52.5 percent and making half of its 3-pointers.
Still, putting forth a similar effort outside the Bay Area has proven problematic at times for the Warriors (7-3), who ended a five-year playoff drought last season despite finishing 19-22 on the road. They are averaging 99.0 points on 46.1 percent shooting while going 2-3 this season and averaged 82.0 points in losses at San Antonio and Memphis in their previous two road contests.
With their other loss coming to the Los Angeles Clippers, all three of their defeats have come to teams which made the playoffs last season.
"So far we've quote-unquote beaten the teams that we're supposed to beat and we've won games at home," said forward David Lee, who had 13 points and five rebounds. "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."
Lee may see extra minutes since Jermaine O'Neal likely won't be available after suffering a sprained right knee and a strained groin following a fall on the baseline early in the fourth quarter. The 35-year-old backup center couldn't put any pressure on his leg while being helped off the court.
"Jermaine means a lot to this basketball team. He has a voice in the locker room, and we had to regroup," 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."
Thompson has been a bell weather for the Warriors, averaging 25.1 points on 61.7 percent shooting in their victories but only 11.0 points on 36.1 percent shooting in the losses.
Utah has lost consecutive games since its lone win and has the worst record in the league. The Jazz, last in the NBA in scoring at 88.7 points per game, are also the only team averaging more turnovers (18.7) than assists (17.6).
"When you get down, especially to a team like Golden State that can score very quickly, you put yourself in a tough position," said Marvin Williams, who wore a facemask to protect his broken nose before tossing it aside in the second quarter.
Gordon Hayward, averaging a team-high 19.3 points, was held to 14 against the Warriors and has shot 10 of 35 in his last two games.
Utah has not lost consecutive games to Golden State since defeats on Jan. 30 and Feb. 16, 2011.