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Warriors backups shoot their way to shocking win

Didn’t see that coming.

Jordan Poole attempting a finger roll Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Basketball is weird. I had this one as a scheduled loss for the Golden State Warriors, and for good reason. Everything was lined up for it. The Warriors, an awful road team, were playing on enemy territory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, an excellent team (even without Donovan Mitchell).

The Warriors were on the second end of a back-to-back. The Warriors had yet to beat a winning team on the road all season long.

And to really top it off, the Warriors were resting four starters: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins.

There was no reason for them to win.

But I repeat: basketball is weird. The Dubs came out firing, with a trio of Jordan Poole threes helping them build a 15-10 lead. JaMychal Green, playing in his first game since missing 14 consecutive contests, came in halfway through the quarter and created chaos in the best way possible, and a handful of players combined to shoot a shocking 7-for-8 from three-point range in the opening frame.

Everyone was having fun, even if we expected the fun to end.

But the second quarter brought more fun. Seemingly everyone contributed: more energy from Green, calm brilliance from the also-returning Jonathan Kuminga, steady defensive strength by Kevon Looney and Donte DiVincenzo, and a flurry of floaters from Ty Jerome.

Somehow, despite the Splash Brothers resting, the Warriors set a season-record for threes in a half, with 14 in opening 24 minutes. It led to a five-point lead at halftime.

And then, even with the primary stars resting, the third quarter Warriors showed up. Before you knew it, the Dubs had pushed the lead all the way to 19 points (it would peak at 20 later in the quarter).

But then they started playing the score. They settled for threes out of rhythm, had a few total head-scratchers in the turnover department, and let the ultra-talented Cavs creep right back into the game. The lead was still 12 points entering the fourth quarter, but you could see the Warriors leaking oil.

Somehow they survived through the fourth quarter. The Cavs would strike, but the Dubs would answer. Anthony Lamb, celebrating his birthday, hit a pair of threes early in the frame to answer two Cleveland runs. Down the stretch the Cavs rattled off a 12-2 run to get within four points, but a wild Ty Jerome three at the shot clock buzzer made it a three-possession game with just over a minute and a half left.

It was scrappy, it was gutsy, and in the end, it was a 120-114 win, where you least expected it.

Poole led the way with 32 points on 10-for-23 shooting, while Jerome splashed in 22 points and 8 assists on 9-for-13 shooting. DiVincenzo finished with an incredibly well-rounded stat line of 17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and a game-high +12 plus/minus, while Looney patrolled the glass with 17 boards, and Green had 13 points and 8 rebounds in just 16 minutes of action.

The Warriors are going home with their first winning road trip of the season, and suddenly Thursday’s heartbreaking loss is a distant memory.

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