Jordan Bull Warriors holds short hand to upset Cavaliers

CLEVELAND — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was furious with Jordan Paul after calling Paul to delay the game — the team’s second — with seven seconds left in the third quarter of their eventual 120-114 victory over Cleveland. Cavaliers Friday night.

“Jordan!” Kerr exclaimed. “Come on, shut up… shut up the game; we’re trying to win this game.”

Just 24 hours after an agonizing loss in Boston, the Warriors needed this win. Cleveland was closing in on the competition, and Golden State, having held a lead as many as 20, needed to do what it hadn’t done against the Celtics: Shut the door.

“It was a learning experience yesterday,” said Paul. “It was something we were very aware of. It was kind of a very similar situation, where I got up six minutes early and then it was such a close game. We knew we needed to shut down, get some stops and have a good run. We needed to shut it down and we did. Now We have to build on it.”

The Warriors were without four of their five players, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins sidelined due to managing various injuries.

Yes, the Cleveland team was without Donovan Mitchell – due to a left hip strain – but Cleveland still has the second-best defensive rating in the league (109.7). Against a Warriors team that was meandering on both ends of the ball – especially without Curry – it was a daunting task.

But the Warriors put together one of their most impressive performances this season.

Paul, who replaced Kevon Looney in the starting lineup for the time being, opened the game with three straight three-pointers. He finished the night with 32 points on 10-of-23, including 5-of-12 from 3.

He passed 500 three-pointers, becoming the third-fastest player to achieve that criterion in Warriors history, trailing only Curry and Thompson. At 23 years old, he is the youngest player to reach the 500s. Paul is just the third player in franchise history to record 20 30-point games at age 23 or younger, joining Rick Barry and Wilt Chamberlain.

“It just keeps growing and it keeps getting better,” Kerr said. “The last two games, he’s been great… to play that way tonight without Steve and Clay Wiggs and Dray, to give us that scoring and that power, he’s made so many plays there. He’s set the tone… He’s just getting better and better. There’s still a lot to go, and he Exciting.”

As a team, the Warriors hit 23 three-pointers against the Cavs, the most they’ve hit in any game without Curry.

“You play 82 games, you’re only going to have a few (3-point shooting nights). We knew we were going to have to win one,” Kerr said.

“Everyone on our team is confident,” said Paul. “Shout out to Coach Kerr for letting us play with such confidence. We know what we’re capable of. We were going wide and looking good. We were laser focused.”

The 3 biggest pointers of the night came from two-way guard T. Jerome. With 1:39 left in the fourth and the Warriors only scoring four, Jerome hit the ball to Looney, who immediately looked at Jerome and returned the ball. Jerome took one dribble, mixed to his right and fired the shot over Darius Garland with four seconds left on the shot clock.

In Jerome’s view, the most striking stat from the night was the Warriors’ even distribution of goals. Without his core, Golden State had six players finish in double-digit scoring.

Jerome scored 22, while Donte DiVincenzo added 17, Jamical Green 13, Anthony Lamb 12 and Jonathan Cuminga 10.

This was Green’s first game since December 20 after recovering from COVID-19 and a subsequent leg injury. It was also Kuminga’s first game back from a sprained right foot that had sidelined him since January 2.

The Warriors’ victory in Cleveland marked the end of their five-game road trip that saw them win, 3-2. Considering Golden State is 6-18 on the road this season, the Warriors see this East Coast trip as a sign of growth.

Now, back home with a much better roster than when they left, they’re hoping that this is when they can start building themselves up for a solid stretch heading into the All-Star break, and a good second half of the season overall.

“We have to win matches on the road, and we did on this trip,” said Paul. “Now we go home…and try to get off the momentum we had tonight.”

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