How Jerome secretly sparked Warriors’ comeback win vs. Blazers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay area
SAN FRANCISCO — Jordan Poole scored 41 points, Klay Thompson added 31 and Donte DiVincenzo had some of the most impressive 16 seconds we’ve seen this season in the Warriors’ 118-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night at Chase Center. How Golden State ended the third quarter might have been the secret sauce to the Warriors’ ruthless fourth quarter en route to theirs first four-game win streak of the season.
Draymond Green said the play “turned the game for us” in a moment the Warriors “could feed off of.” Did they ever.
The Warriors in the third quarter saw what once was an 18-point lead vanish into the San Francisco fog. A fantastic start turned to an epic meltdown. Following a Klay Thompson missed 3-pointer, the Blazers had the ball with 26.9 seconds remaining in the quarter. The moment Blazers star guard Anfernee Simons crossed half-court, Ty Jerome zeroed in on his target.
Jerome went chest-to-chest with Simons with 10 seconds to go. Three seconds later, he swiped him clean. Jerome then raced down the other side of the court, settled himself for a 3-pointer but was too strong right before the buzzer. The miss didn’t matter, the Warriors had life again.
“I just knew he was going to dribble out the clock,” Jerome said to NBC Sports Bay Area in the Warriors’ locker room after the win. “We didn’t have any fouls to give, but when someone’s dribbling out the clock I never want him to feel comfortable, so that’s why I picked him so high at the half, because I know he has to dribble out 14 seconds. I don’t want to just let him sit there and dribble comfortably.
“I want to try to push up, not let him get a head of steam. And then I just saw him do that half spin earlier in the game. So as soon as he turned his back, I just thought, ‘Oh, half spin’s coming.’ I just slid there, and I’m still mad I missed that pull-up 3.
“That was supposed to go in, that was supposed to go in.”
Watch the defensive master class again and again. Now watch the Warriors’ bench.
The second Simons starts his half spin and Jerome recognizes the move, Poole starts to get off his seat. Right when Jerome secures his steal, Curry is up and racing down the sidelines. Jonathan Kuminga waves his towel like a third base coach sending someone home in the ninth inning.
As Jerome went back to the Warriors’ bench at the end of the quarter, a hyped Curry was the first to meet him on the court. Following the biggest star in the building, coach Steve Kerr was smiling ear-to-ear despite his team being down by eight points. He couldn’t have known what would happen next, though it was clear how much momentum Jerome might have just created.
“I was walking back to the huddle and I just saw Steph going crazy,” Jerome said. “He was like, ‘I don’t care you missed it! I don’t care you missed it!’ But in my head, I was just so mad I missed the shot.”
To open the fourth quarter, the Warriors went on a 5-0 run. They later used a 12-0 run to go from being down by eight points to up by four.
Led by Poole’s 11 points in the final frame, the Warriors nearly doubled the Blazers’ point total for the quarter. Watching the play unravel from the bench, he felt Jerome’s defense was a motivator for both sides of the ball.
“That was just really good defense right there,” Poole said. “End of the third quarter, we’re getting the ball going into the fourth quarter out of the break and we’re just feeding off the energy. We know that’s Ant’s a really good shot creator and he’s really big part of their offense, so being able to have Ty just come in and lock in and locked down on that last possession gave us a really good boost going into the fourth.
“Little small things like that, especially later in the game, we find ways to maybe give you some sense of motivation and run with it and find ways to close the game out.”
Really, though, the fourth quarter was all about the Warriors’ defense. They had just allowed 40 points the previous quarter. But the third did end on an extremely high note defensively.
What Draymond Green, Kuminga and DiVincenzo did in the fourth defensively was dominance down to the definition. Six Warriors scored in the fourth. Only three did so for the Blazers. The Warriors recorded six steals in the final 12 minutes and one block, outrebounded Portland 15 to 11 and held them to 35 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent from deep.
Unprompted, Green was the first to mention Jerome’s defense. In the eyes of one of the all-time great defenders, everything changed for the Warriors right then and there.
“You see a guy who just puts it all on the line, locks in on the defensive end and gets a stop — especially when we were reeling — that’s something that you can build off of on that end, and we were able to do that,” he said.
The Warriors have been searching for consistency this season, begging for it. Their first three quarters were a spitting image of how the first 37 games had gone. It was a roller coaster whose highs were fun and flashy, but whose lows looked like new ways to make rock bottom.
Their top two scorers were out, and the Warriors appeared to be ending the year with a losing record and a sour taste in their mouths. A jolt kicked them into gear, and a culprit is a player who has turned vital in recent weeks.
RELATED: GP2 amazingly knew Klay’s dagger 3-pointer was going in
“And then the 16 points in the fourth, we just found ways to win,” Jerome said. “We didn’t play amazing, but we found a way to win. That’s great for us right now.”
Beating the Memphis Grizzlies in resounding fashion on Christmas is what kickstarted this win streak. The Warriors then fought off a fight from the Charlotte Hornets two nights later. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Warriors overcame a 12-point deficit and held the Utah Jazz to 13 points in the fourth quarter.
And then to end the year, the Warriors again overcame a double-digit hole — doing so with elbow grease and a gritty win behind a determined defense. Not too long ago, the Warriors seemed to have forgotten that side of the ball existed. Lately, they are beginning to show flashes of their championship defense a season ago.
Especially when it matters most. Over their last three games, according to Warriors Muse on Twitter, the Warriors are holding their opponents to 15.4 percent from the field in the clutch and 18.8 percent on 3-point attempts. During clutch situations, the Hornets, Jazz and Blazers went 4-for-26 from the field and 3-for-16 from deep.
All that’s waiting is Curry and Andrew Wiggins. One was playing like the best player in the planet before sustaining a left shoulder injury and the other was on his way to his second straight All-Star Game before going down to a right adductor strain and an illness.
“That’s huge,” Jerome said. “To have our longest win streak of the year without the best player in the world and another All-Star and Klay not playing one of the games, it just speaks to everybody on the team stepping up.
“Every night it’s been someone different. Jordan was unreal tonight, Klay was great. Draymond’s been great on defense. Donte has been huge. JK vs. Charlotte won it for us down the stretch. Tonight he was great. Every single game it’s been a new person.
“That’s a really fun way to play basketball, when you have someone new stepping up every single night.”