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Utah Jazz use gutsy performance to beat Golden State Warriors, 104-98

SALT LAKE CITY — Paul Millsap was suffering through a stomach virus and feeling miserable. C.J. Miles was puking his guts out before the game and at halftime. Al Jefferson was in pain with a stomach strain.

Devin Harris was recovering from a sprained ankle.

Injured veterans Raja Bell and Josh Howard were sporting fine-looking dress duds on the sideline.

No, you didn't accidentally happen upon the Utah Jazz's injury report here.

These were simply the adverse conditions the team faced Friday night in a must-win situation against the Golden State Warriors.

Even with all of the extra ice, medicine and tape, the team from Utah's sick bay outlasted the team from the San Francisco Bay for a 104-98 victory at EnergySolutions Arena.

"We gutted out a W," Jazz guard Earl Watson said.

"It just showed the character of these guys," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin added. "They really understand where we are and they want to give everything they have and try to seize the moment, and I really love that about them."

Jefferson led the way despite spending part of the game in the training room and a short amount of time on the bench with an ice pack on his stomach, which he strained early in the game and then again in the third quarter while rebounding.

But Big Al returned to cap off a big night and carry the Jazz home to the win with 30 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high five blocked shots.

"I just have to fight through the pain," Jefferson said. "This time of the year, what we are fighting for, you don't have time to complain about anything."

Harris' hot hand was one thing nobody in the Jazz locker room was about to complain about on this night.

The starting point guard tweaked his left ankle in Monday's win at Portland, missed Wednesday's loss against Phoenix and was officially listed as a game-time decision for this contest.

Not only did Harris' ankle look better, but his shot was as spot-fon as it's been all season. The eight-year veteran scored a season-high 28 points, drilled a career-high-tying five 3-pointers and helped the slow-starting Jazz get past the visitors after they took an early 13-point lead.

"It started last night. I was shooting threes last night at Leapin' Leaners in a suit," said Harris, referring to the Jazz's annual charity fundraiser dinner that was held Thursday at ESA. " I got everything kind of tightened up and it worked out great for me."

Harris was especially hot to begin the fourth quarter, when he helped Utah take the momentum by opening the period with an 8-0 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers and a tough layup.

Gordon Hayward said he could tell Harris was in for a good night by the way the veteran was shooting in pregame drills.

Golden State coach Mark Jackson lamented the fact that Hayward's premonition and Harris' shot were on.

"Devin Harris hit some tough shots," Jackson said.

But Harris wasn't the only Jazz point guard who played a pivotal role in this win, which helped Utah (29-27) leapfrog Phoenix (28-27) into the No. 9 spot and keep up with Houston and Denver.

A Jazz team that's been a hodge-podge combination of youth and veteran players all season had to take its mixing and matching to another level to beat a 21-33 Warriors squad that didn't lay over as easily as some thought they might.

For a little while, Corbin used a funky lineup that included three bigs: Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.

But the most effective twist the coach threw into the mix was a version of Small Ball.

Because of Miles' illness and rookie Alec Burks' inexperience, Corbin matched a pair of the Jazz's three point guards — Harris, Watson and Jamaal Tinsley — together for extended periods of time.

"This time of year, we just can't afford to wait. They went to a zone on us and we were spinning a little bit," Corbin said. "We went with the veteran group of guys just because they know how to play against it. We were small, but you know what, they did a great job of just fighting guys off the spots."

Power forward David Lee (26 points, 12 rebounds) and rookie guard Klay Thompson (23 points) had big games for undermanned Golden State, which didn't exactly look like it would send the Jazz a "Tank You" card by the way it fought throughout the night.

But, despite all the injuries and illnesses, the banged-up and ailing Jazz did what they needed to snap out of their recent funk that saw them lose their last two home games and five of seven overall.

"This time of year, especially, most guys are aching in some kind of way. If you want an excuse not to play, you can find it easy," Corbin said when talking about Millsap's gutsiness before the game. "If you love what you're doing and you're willing to be responsible to your teammates and the character of you as a person, you fight through those things."

The Jazz's next face a challenge even bigger than their medical woes — a Sunday-Monday duel with the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs.

Don't expect anybody on Utah's team to call in sick for either of those games.


Twitter: DJJazzyJody