OAKLAND, Calif. — Mo Williams scored 25 points, Al Jefferson added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the Utah Jazz regained the Western Conference’s final playoff position by holding off the Golden State Warriors 97-90 on Sunday night.
Williams made a 3-pointer with 13.4 seconds remaining to put Utah ahead by six and spoil Golden State’s shot to clinch a playoff berth in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596. The Jazz moved a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth seed.
Stephen Curry scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half and Klay Thompson had 20 points for the Warriors, who were trying to clinch a postseason spot for the first time since 2007 and just the second in 19 years.
That celebration will have to wait.
The Jazz played like a team playing for its playoff life, just as coach Tyrone Corbin had hoped before the game. They outhustled and outmuscled Golden State for most of the game, holding off one final flurry for a critical win.
After the Warriors went down 11 points late in the fourth quarter, Thompson and Curry each hit a 3-pointer to cut Utah’s lead to 91-86 with 3:28 to play. Draymond Green followed by tipping in David Lee’s miss to bring the Warriors within three.
Jefferson hit a jumper that silenced fans standing all over the arena, then Lee answered with a layup to bring the crowd back to full throat. Golden State forced another stop, but wasted the offensive opportunity.
Green had his layup blocked by Derrick Favors, got the ball back and tossed it out to Jarrett Jack, who missed a contested 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down. The Jazz isolated Williams at the top of the arc against Green, and he drained the shot that sent Utah home with a monumental win.
The Lakers lost 109-95 to the Clippers earlier Sunday to give the Jazz a major opportunity in what has already been a topsy-turvy race for the final spot. Utah owns the tiebreaker after winning the season series against the Lakers 2-1.
Golden State, still in sixth place in the West, still needs any combination of two wins or losses by the conference’s ninth team to seal a playoff berth. A slow start just proved too much to overcome.
Curry kept the Warriors on pace by scoring the first nine points during his team’s erratic start, which included four turnovers in the first 4:12. He made his first three shots from the arc, the last giving Golden State a 38-29 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Jazz erased that deficit in fewer than four minutes behind a 17-4 run capped by Gordon Hayward’s 3-pointer. After going ahead by 10 points on consecutive deep 3s by Randy Foye and Mo Williams, Utah held on for a 56-48 halftime lead.
Golden State sliced Utah’s lead to a point in the third quarter before the Jazz took control again. Al Jefferson converted a layup over Jack to start a three-point play that highlighted a 10-1 spurt that put Utah up 75-65.
The Warriors wouldn’t wither easily.
Lee’s layup while getting fouled by Jefferson began a three-point play, and Thompson followed with a lefty layup through traffic to trim the Jazz’s lead to 80-76 early in the fourth quarter. Millsap followed with a dunk, and Hayward added a fast-break layup to quickly put Utah back in front by eight and quiet chants of “defense!” from Golden State’s crowd.
Williams made a jumper and followed with a driving floater over Andrew Bogut before Hayward’s 3-pointer stretched Utah’s lead to 91-80 with 4:20 remaining.
NOTES: Utah won the season series 2-1. ... Jazz reserve F Alec Burks sat out with a sprained right ankle, which occurred during Utah’s 95-83 win over New Orleans on Friday night. He is day to day. ... The Warriors signed G Scott Machado from Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League to a 10-day contract.