Warriors fans give Jerebko huge ovation

Swede an unlikely catalyst with 23 points, 3 assists, 6 rebounds in 120-116 win

Jonas Jerebko was an unlikely catalyst as the two-time defending NBA champions Golden State held off the Dallas Mavericks 120-116 in Oakland, California, yesterday morning (Singapore time).

In a team featuring the superstar quartet of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, it was Sweden's Jerebko receiving a massive ovation as he departed in the fourth quarter with 23 points in 21 minutes, three assists and six rebounds.

Durant led the Warriors with 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, but Jerebko's relentless energy was crucial to the Warriors' victory.

"He shot the ball really well, but he got a lot of offensive boards, too," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

"He had several plays that got the crowd into it with his hustle. He gave us a huge lift."

Jerebko scored nine points in the fourth quarter - contributing a tip-in, a dunk and a three-pointer as the Warriors powered to a 111-96 lead.

He had several plays that got the crowd into it with his hustle. He gave us a huge lift. Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Jonas Jerebko, who helped the NBA champions beat the Mavericks

He was back on the bench as Golden State saw their lead cut to one point.

Dallas forward Harrison Barnes' three-pointer with 33.5 seconds left bounced off the rim and Durant drained a three-pointer to seal the win.

The win saw the Warriors, who have struggled to find the same dominance of their past two seasons, improve to 22-11, just a shade off the Western Conference lead shared at 21-10 by the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Denver had a one-game lead heading into the day, but suffered their biggest defeat of the season in a 132-111 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris scored 21 points apiece for the Clippers, who snapped the Nuggets' four-game winning streak.

"I just thought our tempo set the tone," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Our pace tonight, maybe as good as I've seen. We never stopped."

Serbian forward Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 19 points before he was tossed in the third quarter when he received two quick technicals for arguing a foul call.

Jamal Murray added 18 points and Monte Morris chipped in 15 for the Nuggets, who hadn't lost by more than 10 points this season. - AFP