CLEVELAND — Friday’s matchup against the Cavaliers had all the makings to be a throwaway game for the Warriors.
Golden State had a quick turnaround from a stinging overtime loss the night before in Boston and sat four of its five starters, including Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. The diminished roster had the Warriors entering as 11.5-point underdogs.
But the undermanned Warriors defeated the odds — and the Cavaliers — and pulled out a 120-114 win to bring Golden State back to .500 on the season.
The Warriors’ hot shooting propelled them ahead by as many as 20 points in the third quarter. But as the fourth quarter wound down, the visitors found their once comfortable double-digit lead shrink to a two-possession game.
After shooting 60.6% from 3 through the first three quarters, Golden State cooled off in the fourth and the Cavaliers, owners of the second-best defensive rating in the league this season, took advantage. Cleveland rallied for an 8-0 run to trim the Warriors’ lead to four with about two minutes remaining.
But on the Warriors’ next possession, Ty Jerome knocked down a step-back, fadeaway 3-pointer to put Golden State up seven again with 1:39 left.
“I think that was the shot of the game,” coach Steve Kerr said.
Golden State managed to hold on from there, avoiding a fourth-quarter collapse like the one they suffered the night before at the hands of the Celtics.
“We didn’t exactly slam the door shut but we closed it gently,” Kerr said. “We got it done, we had some turnovers down the stretch but we also made some big, big plays and got some big stops. That alone was tremendous.”
Six Warriors players finished in double figure scoring and knocked down two or more 3s. Jordan Poole led the way with 32 points while shooting 10-for-23 from the field and 5-of-12 from 3. Jerome added a season-high 22 points and eight assists, and Donte DiVincenzo ended the night with 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals en route to the Warriors’ sixth road win of the season.
With Curry, Klay Thompson, Green and Andrew Wiggins all sidelined for the second night of a back-to-back, the returns of Jonathan Kuminga, who missed eight games with a sprained foot, and JaMychal Green, who was out even longer after catching COVID and suffering a leg infection, helped the Warriors’ cause.
Kuminga had 10 points and five assists, while Green contributed 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Even with Curry and Thompson on the bench in street clothes, Golden State did damage outside the arc, draining a season-high 14 3-pointers in the first half to take a 64-59 halftime lead. The Warriors, who converted on 23 of their 43 attempts from beyond the arc, knocked down nine more 3s than the Cavaliers, who shot 50% from the field.
“We all were a little upset after Boston last night. Even the guys that didn’t play because we won the game and we gave it away,” Jerome said. Friday’s win was “important becuase you don’t want to go two games under .500 in the West right now. I just think we all came up ready to play and you know, when guys aren’t playing, everyone’s working, we still expect to win.”
The Warriors are 23-23 this season and closed out this road trip going 3-2.
“It was a great, great week,” Kerr said. “I’m really hoping that this is kind of the boost we’ve been looking for.”
Golden State will return home to play the Brooklyn Nets at Chase Center on Sunday.
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