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Curry comes up big for Warriors in overtime as Jazz falter

SALT LAKE CITY — It may have been the biggest Jazz game of the year against a Golden State Warriors team chasing history, but once again all eyes were on the best basketball player on the planet right now — Steph Curry — Wednesday night at the Vivint Arena.

Right from the start when a large crowd assembled behind the south basket to watch Curry warm up 90 minutes before the game until he scored six points in the decisive overtime, Curry was the main attraction.

He didn’t have a stupendous night, needing overtime to get to his season average, but Curry made a difference, particularly at the end of the game. Curry finished with 31 points on 11-of-23 shooting, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

“It wasn’t an easy game obviously and we had to battle all the way to the end,” Curry said afterward. “Klay (Thompson) hit a big shot in regulation and we used that momentum into overtime and our defense really carried us in the overtime period.”

The Jazz threw four guys at him, starting with Shelvin Mack, with Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward and Joe Ingles each also taking a turn. Utah coach Quin Snyder was generally pleased with how his team defended Curry.

“I thought he played well — you just try to make it hard on him and even when you do that he’s going to make some really difficult shots,” Snyder said. “We tried. We didn’t have too many breakdowns and we tried to make it hard on him. He made some really tough shots at the rim. You could really see what a great finisher he was at certain opportunities. Those stood out. He’s special in a lot of ways.”

Curry scored seven points in the first quarter on 3-of-7 shooting, including a 20-footer in the final second to give the Warriors a 26-21 lead. His big stat of the opening quarter was his five rebounds, including one during which he outfought a pair of Jazz players and then stepped back and fired up a 3-pointer that hit nothing but net.

He played only the second half of the second quarter and scored just one basket, a long 3-pointer from the right angle and finished the half with 10 points, five rebounds and three turnovers. In the third quarter, Curry scored 12 points, on three 3-pointers, a two-pointer and a free throw on a technical foul by the mild-mannered Gordon Hayward.

The fourth quarter didn’t go well for Curry, who scored just three points, on a circus shot at the midway point and one of two free throws with 1:21 left.

With the Warriors trailing by two in the final minute, everyone knew Curry was going to take a shot, but he lost the ball near the top of the key and Hayward jumped on it. However, Mack made only one of two free throws with 24 seconds left, allowing Thompson’s 3-pointer to force overtime.

In the overtime period, Curry scored six points, including the go-ahead basket with 3:03 left when he drove in the paint and sank a left-handed hook to make it 95-93. After a couple of Jazz misses, Curry hit a pair of free throws at the 2:19 mark and after another Jazz miss hit the dagger on another drive in the lane with a shot high off the glass that went around the rim and in.

Curry called it a “playoff atmosphere” and knows his team may be coming back here next month if the Jazz finish with the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.

“We know we can obviously match up with them,” he said. “We know if we come back here in a couple of weeks in a playoff series, we’ll know what the expectations are and what atmosphere is going to be like and how we need to play to win a series like that.”