Warriors aim for strong second half in meeting with Jazz

Perhaps no team in the NBA needed the All-Star break more than the Golden State Warriors.

Losers of five in a row, the Warriors resume their push to the playoffs on Tuesday night in Utah against the Jazz.

The Warriors took the collar on a recent four-game road trip, then came back and fell to the Houston Rockets for a second time in a week at Oracle Arena one week ago.

Golden State is seven games behind the Los Angeles Clippers in the Pacific Division and fell to sixth in the Western Conference. One game behind them in the West is Tuesday's opponent, the Jazz, who own the sixth-best home record in the NBA at 20-6. The Warriors are 14-15 on the road.

The Warriors were well-represented at All-Star Weekend with four starters involved in various activities. David Lee played the main event, while Steph Curry participated in the 3-Point Contest. Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson were in the Rising Stars Challenge.

Despite the woes before the break, Lee, for one, definitely sees a bright future this season for his Warriors, thanks in no small part to chemistry.

"The chemistry of our team is as good as anybody's in the league," Lee said. "Talking about how close NBA games are, just one or two little things can make a difference. The chemistry for us has been enormous. I think that that's really going to steer us in the right direction."

The Jazz had only one representative in Houston for All-Star Weekend. Little- used Jeremy Evans nobly defended his Slam Dunk title, but finished second to Terrance Ross.

That meant the Jazz core was able to get plenty of rest. Point guard Mo Williams will be sidelined for a while longer thanks to his surgically- repaired thumb, although he participated in non-contract drills on Monday.

Gordon Hayward's availability for Tuesday has yet to be determined. He hasn't played since Jan. 26 due to a shoulder injury.

The first game after the break can be huge for any team, but Utah has its closest foe in the standings right out of the shoot.

"You want to get the first one after the break and this is a game that can have more than just a one-loss implication going down the stretch," head coach Tyrone Corbin told the Deseret News. "Golden State is a team that's going to be in the battle for the playoffs position and there's the tie-break implications, so it can mean more than one game. You really want to do all you can to get yourself a chance to win this game."

With the NBA's trade deadline looming on Thursday, the Jazz are always a team that generates buzz. Both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are free agents at the end of the season and both names have been reportedly been talked about in trade discussions.

The Warriors won this season's only matchup with Utah, a 94-83 victory on Dec. 26 in Salt Lake City. Golden State lost 10 of its last 13 in Utah and the Jazz won two in a row before the All-Star break.