Veterans lead, and young players follow — and in this case, a big Warriors win came along for the ride.
Superstar Stephen Curry scored 14 of his 32 points in the first quarter and Draymond Green tallied a triple-double against the Utah Jazz on Sunday, vaulting Golden State toward an improbable 131-119 win against its Western Conference foe, which still sits atop the standings.
And though it was Curry’s birthday, a youthful, new-look reserve unit stole a bit of the show, holding their own against a motivated Jazz squad when Curry and Green rested on the bench.
The Warriors got off to a dynamite start on defense, with at least four steals in the first period, setting the tone for the day. Golden State finished with 12 steals and held Utah to 44 percent shooting, including just 34.1 percent from 3. The Jazz have scorched the entire NBA from distance this season, but not on Sunday.
Green thinks the game could be a turning point for the Warriors (20-19), who had lost four straight and were in danger of falling below the .500 mark. Here’s part of what he said postgame, per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Rookie center James Wiseman, rookie guard Nico Mannion and second-year G Jordan Poole led the new-look reserve group, holding onto the rope on defense and scoring points, too. Poole and Wiseman combined for 34 altogether; Wiseman tallied 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting and Poole nailed 6-of-11 shots including 3-for-5 from 3-point range. Mannion hit 2-of-3 shots including a 3-pointer and had five points.
So can this win be a turning point in the Warriors’ season? It definitely has the potential to be. Golden State was reeling, and the Jazz looked unstoppable in beating the Warriors earlier in the season. All signs pointed to a loss, especially with the commitment to youth from coach Steve Kerr.
But Kerr achieved his exact aim with this win: the veterans led, the youth followed in both effort and results, and the grand result was the ultimate prize, an NBA win. That it was against the Jazz makes it that much more improbable — and you’d figure, more inspiring for the Golden State locker room. Next up, a date with LeBron James and the Lakers on Monday.
Here’s more stats for the entire roster. Notice that forward Andrew Wiggins led in a big way, too, including when he shared the court with the reserves, shooting a scintillating 12-for-16 overall and 3-of-4 from distance on his way to 28 points, not to mention his customary elite defense.
(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)