By Rob Johnson
Special to S.F. Examiner
SALT LAKE CITY — The Golden State Warriors wrecked the Utah Jazz’s home opener in a 124-123 win, thanks to the last-second heroics of new Warrior and former Jazz, Jonas Jerebko.
Trailing the Utah Jazz 123-122 with scant seconds remaining on Friday, the Golden State Warriors saw Kevin Durant’s jumper roll off the rim. With just 0.3 seconds remaining, newcomer Jonas Jerebko tipped in what turned out to be the game-winner. Jerebko, who played last season with Utah, flexed and cheered in front of the Jazz bench.
Jerebko came off the bench and finished with a total of 10 points in 24 minutes in the 124-123 win against his former team, for whom he averaged 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds last season en route to a Western Conference Semifinals loss to the Houston Rockets. Jerebko was one of five Warriors who scored in double figures on the night, led by Durant’s 38.
“We got some great guys on this team,” Jerebko. “They knew this was a big game for me coming back here, I told them before, ‘Let’s get a win’… and to get it that way was special.”
The Warriors got foul-happy in the first quarter, and thanks to the Jazz making 15-of-17 free-throws, Golden State 34-32 at the end of the period.
“We just had to get smarter. We fouled too much in the first quarter,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “Once we settled down, that’s when we were able to get back in the game.”
In the second quarter, the Utah’s trips to the free-throw settled down, but then the Jazz started hitting their three-pointers. They were 11-for-19 from distance at the break, and despite Durant dropping 24 points in the first half, Utah led the Warriors 81-69.
“They played extremely well, they’re a team on the rise,” said Kerr. “I’m proud of our team for hanging in there, coming back, and getting a great win.”
The Jazz had six player score double-figures, led by Joe Ingles’ 27 points.
“Everybody is planning and scheming for us. It’s flattering, but it’s also difficult,” Kerr said. “Teams are building their rosters specifically to try and guard us.”
After halftime, Stephen Curry got going and added 22 of his 31 points as the Warriors slowly clawed back.
Draymond Green, who played center in the small ball lineup instead of Jordan Bell, also played a key role of keeping the Warriors in the game. He filled the stat sheet with 14 points, 6 assists, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
“I started focusing on the defensive end,” said Green. “Once I focus on the defensive end and start making plays, that’s what gets me going.”
His favorite part, though? Jerebko.
“Forget the win, forget the game,” Green said. “My favorite part was when he starting yelling at their bench.”