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Utah Jazz on a nice roll, but Warriors have their sights set on record

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant guards Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 28,  2016.
Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant guards Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 28, 2016.
Laura Seitz,

SALT LAKE CITY — Yes, the Utah Jazz have definitely been on a real nice roll lately, winning eight of their last 10 games to put themselves in prime position to possibly earn a Western Conference playoff spot.

And then there's this impressive little roll the Golden State Warriors have been on, one stretching over the past two seasons. The defending NBA champions, with their sights set on the league's single-season record for wins, bring a glistening 66-7 record — yes, that's right, 66-7 — to town tonight to tangle with the Jazz at Vivint Arena.

Only two NBA teams — Golden State and Atlanta, each with 9-1 records — have been hotter that the Jazz over their last 10 games. Of course, as encouraging as the Jazz season has been despite a torrent of adversity — they're currently 37-37 and sit seventh in the West, a game ahead of Houston and Dallas — the fact remains that if the Warriors and Jazz were in the same division, Golden State would hold an almost obscene 29 1/2-game lead over Utah.

And while a win over the Warriors would be downright huge in Utah's quest to nail down its first postseason berth since 2012, stopping Golden State's run to the record books will be an imposing — if not impossible — task.

Asked Tuesday how his defense might best be effective against an elite offense like Golden State's, Jazz coach Quin Snyder had a simple answer.

"You don't play 'em," he shot back with a wry smile.

Indeed, the Warriors are a hot-shooting squad led by guard Steph Curry, the league's reigning Most Valuable Player who's averaging 30 points, 6.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.13 assists per game and appears well on his way to a second straight MVP award.

Throw in his backcourt running mate and fellow "Splash Brother," Klay Thompson, who averages 22.7 points per game, and versatile forward Draymond Green with his 13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game, and the Warriors are a pretty tough pill for any team to try and swallow.

"You have to be hopeful a little bit, too, that a team doesn't shoot well," Snyder said, looking ahead to tonight's matchup. "We were fortunate that Steph Curry didn't shoot well the last time we played 'em. I don't know that we did anything that significant. Sometimes you play him great and he goes for 40.

"But I think of their other players, the thing about their team is they're so deep and they're so skilled at every position. ... Against those teams, it really has to be a sustained effort. You can play well for a quarter, and then the next quarter they can put up 35 or 40 on you and however well you played is not as impactful. The key is sustaining some sort of effort and then being a little lucky."

The Warriors have already beaten the Jazz three straight times this season, and Golden State has won seven of the last eight matchups between the two teams. Most recently, the Jazz lost 115-94 three weeks ago at Oakland, where they were also beaten 103-85 in December. Utah's best showing against Golden State came at home in late-November, when the Jazz dropped a 106-103 decision.

The key for Utah will be trying to find a way to keep Curry and Co. in check offensively.

"For us, they're a team we have to try to focus on doing what we do," Snyder said. "And we try to guard. That's definitely an emphasis, and trying to make them work.

"The biggest thing for us a lot of times defensively is not turning the ball over and actually getting a chance to defend. Pretty consistently, when we've turned it over a lot, we're gonna have tough nights and we just have to limit those, especially early in the game and not spot people leads where we have to be scratching and clawing the whole game to get back in it."

Utah point guard Shelvin Mack, who has greatly boosted the Jazz's fortunes since arriving in a Feb. 18 trade with the Atlanta Hawks, pointed out that the Warriors might be fatigued after having played at home Tuesday night before traveling to Utah.

"Hopefully, they're tired coming off a back to back," he said. "We've got to be focused, be ready to pick up Steph Curry, have a clear mind and try to compete at a high level.

"It's a great challenge and I'm looking forward to it and ready to have some fun with it."

Mack, too, was asked how to slow down the Warriors' high-scoring attack.

"That's a million-dollar question," he said. "I think everyone's trying to figure that out. Just try and take care of the ball; they do a great job of turning it over on you. You have to take care of the ball and make those guys play defense for longer periods of time, and that keeps the ball out of their hands. I think that helps you out.

"We've got to try to make it difficult, make sure we contest every shot."

Utah shooting guard Rodney Hood, coming off a superb performance in which he hit 8 of 9 3-pointers and scored 30 points — all in the first half — in a 48-point romp over the Los Angeles Lakers, said the key for the Jazz was to simply be themselves and to play tough.

"To be honest, I think we've just gotta be who we are," he said. "Regardless of what we're doing, we've gotta be tough. We can't let them have a free-flowing game. They're gonna hit some tough shots; that's what they do. They hit more tough shots than anybody I've ever seen.

"But we've gotta be tough, stay with the game plan and I think we'll be successful. We'll wear on them in the fourth quarter.

"The thing we have to do is we have to be efficient offensively," Hood said. "We can't turn the ball over against them; that's an automatic point for them. And we've gotta score. You can't expect to beat the Warriors (scoring) under a hundred points, in my opinion, even though the Spurs did it. You can't expect to beat them like that."

No, for the Jazz to stay on their roll, they've got to do everything right — and hope the Warriors don't get on an offensive roll of their own.