How the Warriors coped with grief in return to Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY — The Warriors knew they’d have to cope with some pain.

Emotions hit when the team returned to Utah to play the Jazz on Monday for the first time since assistant coach Dejan Milojevic’s fatal heart attack at a team dinner in Salt Lake City last month.

They came without a handful of their own — coach Steve Kerr, assistant coaches Chris DeMarco and Ron Adams along with general manager Mike Dunleavy, Zaza Pachulia and vice president of player health and performance Rick Celebrini flew to Milojevic’s homeland Serbia on Sunday morning for his memorial.

Assistant coach Kenny Atkinson filled in for Kerr, leading the Warriors to a comfortable 129-107 win, the team’s fifth straight victory amid a stark turning point this season. Winning, the team found, helped them cope with the burden of grief.

“Winning helps,” Atkinson said before the game. “When you’re starting to go on a little bit of a win streak, you want more. So there’s that enthusiasm. We also know we’re behind (in the standings). So there’s a little bit of an edge to us. A positive edge.”

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