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Jazz notes: Hill's sore toe continues to hurt Jazz hopes in series

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's starting point guard, George Hill, missed his second consecutive playoff game Saturday night with a sprained big toe on his left foot which has now sidelined him for a total of 16 games this season.

Hill, who's averaged 15.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game in this year's playoffs, missed Game 2 of Utah's Western Conference semifinal series Thursday at Oakland, California, and was again pronounced unable to play for Game 3 at Vivint Arena.

Utah head coach Quin Snyder said that though Hill's injury obviously hurts his team's postseason hopes, it was the right thing to do to keep him on the sidelines Saturday because the sore toe greatly impacts Hill's effectiveness on the floor.

"It's really just more a question of his effectiveness and his toe," Snyder said. "He's missed games for this over the course of the season. And what happens is as he's playing, there are situations in the game that happen where he lands on it and pushes off and it just aggravates it. It aggravates it to a point where he's just not able to be effective.

"That's where it's at. Our hope was, in Game 2 and him not playing, that we would see progress. I think there is some progress, but it's been marginal. He's still in the same position where he's just not ...

"The other guys we got, we're not playing four on five; we've got other guys (Shelvin Mack, Dante' Exum and Raul Neto)," Snyder said. "Again, I want to be as optimistic and enthusiastic under the circumstances as I can because that's what we've been with our team. George is certainly missed."

Mack started at point guard in Hill's absence and scored 11 points with five assists and four rebounds in 37-plus minutes, but he shot just 3 of 11 from the field in Utah's 102-91 loss.

ANOTHER SLOW START: After falling behind by nine points in the opening minutes of each of the first two games of this series, and thus being forced to play catchup the rest of the night, the Jazz were determined to get off to a stronger start in Game 3.

It didn't happen.

Utah shot just 6 of 21 (28.6 percent) in the first quarter, missed five free throws and got out-rebounded by a wide 19-10 margin in the opening 12 minutes, as Warriors backup big man JaVale McGee had six boards in little more than five minutes on the court.

Even worse for the Jazz, Kevin Durant scored 13 first-period points to pace Golden State to a 10-point lead, 27-17, at the first stop. But then they ...

TOOK THE LEAD — FINALLY: After never holding the lead through the first two games of this series, the Jazz finally went ahead for the first time when Rodney Hood hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:01 remaining in the first half to give Utah a 48-47 edge.

Rudy Gobert's two free throws with 26.6 seconds left in the half gave the Jazz a 50-49 halftime lead, and they led through most of the third quarter.

Gobert's free throw gave Utah its last lead at 79-78 with 6:25 remaining in the game before Golden State's All-Star tandem of Kevin Durant and Steph Curry took over, combining for the Warriors' last 22 points in a game-ending 24-12 run.

SHOOTING STRUGGLES: Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson each had tough shooting nights in the Game 3 loss.

Though Hood's corner 3 gave Utah its first lead in the series, it was the only shot he hit in a 1 for 8 night, including 1 of 4 from beyond the arc.

Johnson, who was so instrumental in Utah's first-round playoff series triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers, was just 3 of 12 from the field on Saturday, including 1 of 5 from 3-point range. He did have six rebounds, however.

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com