Swede return for new warriors star

Golden State forward Jonas Jerebko is all smiles while he is being congratulated by his team after his game-winning basket. The Warriors narrowly beat the Utah Jazz 124-123 in the National Basketball Association on Friday, ending a three-game losing
Golden State forward Jonas Jerebko is all smiles while he is being congratulated by his team after his game-winning basket. The Warriors narrowly beat the Utah Jazz 124-123 in the National Basketball Association on Friday, ending a three-game losing streak to the same team last year.PHOTO: REUTERS

Jerebko tips in last-gasp winner against his old team Jazz as Golden State finally beat nemesis

SALT LAKE CITY (Utah) • Jonas Jerebko is not a name that rolls off the tongue easily, what with being the Golden State Warriors' new boy and the latest journeymen to make up the rest of the champions' star-studded roster.

But the Swede savoured his rare moment under the spotlight against the Utah Jazz who waived him in the summer, his tip-in with 0.3 seconds left lifting the Warriors to a 124-123 National Basketball Association (NBA) win on Friday.

His 10 points off the bench and the game-winner also exacted a measure of revenge for his new teammates, with the Jazz being the only team last year to beat the Warriors three times.

"My teammates knew this was a big game for me coming back here. I wanted to win and told them I really wanted this one," said Jerebko, who has also played for the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons.

"It was fun. My teammates are really helping me out.

"I'm new here, so they've just been carrying me. It felt great."

Kevin Durant top-scored with 38 points while Stephen Curry tallied 31 in front of a crowd of 18,300 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

MORE THAN JUST A GAME

My teammates knew this was a big game for me coming back here. I wanted to win and told them I really wanted this one.

JONAS JEREBKO, Golden State Warriors forward who was waived by the Utah Jazz in the summer.

While the Warriors are heavily favoured to win their third NBA title in a row, many had wondered how they would fare against the Jazz's lockdown defence.

And it looked like another upset was on the cards after the Jazz built a big lead with 47 points - including a franchise record of 10 three-pointers - in the second quarter for an 81-69 half-time lead.

However, Golden State clawed their way back into the contest with a strong second-half showing, led by Curry, who dropped 16 points in the third quarter.

On the Warriors' final possession of the game, Durant attempted a jump shot from the free-throw line which rattled off the rim, but Jerebko was right there to outmuscle Rudy Gobert for the winner.

"I took the ball out, so I knew I was going to give it to K.D. and I knew he was going to shoot it, so I just tried to get to the rim," the forward said.

Curry later paid tribute to Jerebko for helping to cap the Warriors' rally. "He had a little bit of juice and fire coming here to Utah to show up his old teammates," the five-time All-Star said, while Durant felt it was "fitting" that Jerebko had the last say.

"Jonas was there in the right place at the right time," the nine-time All-Star added. "It was very fitting that he comes back here and gets the game-winning tip. We were very excited for him."

Australian Joe Inglis led the Jazz with 27 points while Donovan Mitchell, who was runner-up for Rookie of the Year last season, scored 19 in the loss.

In Toronto, Kawhi Leonard had 15 of his 31 points in the third quarter and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds to power the Raptors to a 113-101 win over the Boston Celtics.

Elsewhere, Jimmy Butler, who has been the object of scorn from Timberwolves fans for saying he will not re-sign with the team for next season, turned the boos to "M-V-P" cheers after contributing 33 points to lead Minnesota past the Cleveland Cavaliers 131-123.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 21, 2018, with the headline 'Swede return for new warriors star'. Print Edition | Subscribe