SALT LAKE CITY -- Jonas Jerebko's game-winning tip-in with 0.3 seconds left in Friday's 124-123 decision over the Utah Jazz didn't just give the Golden State Warriors a victory, it solidified the veteran forward's place on his new team.
"That's the moment where he's one of us," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. "Any time you're a new guy with a team, you're trying to make your mark. You do it in practice by going hard. You do it with your work ethic.
"But as soon as you hit a game winner, that pretty much solidifies."
Jerebko, who spent last season playing with the Jazz before being waived in July and signing with Golden State, admitted that Friday's winner was one of the highlights of his career.
"It felt great," Jerebko said. "Obviously, being back here -- I had a great time here. So to come back -- said I wanted a win, so it felt great."
Steph Curry says that Jonas Jerebko was "juiced" to play against his former team, giving him the edge in this contest.
Jerebko's tip-in capped what likely will go down as one of the best games of the season, even though it's only Week 1. Both teams hit shots from all over the floor throughout the night, which saw the Warriors climb all the way back from a 16-point deficit with 5:36 left in the third quarter. The Warriors survived after seeing the Jazz score a franchise-record 81 first-half points, make a franchise-record 19 of 46 3s and Utah small forward Joe Ingles post 27 points.
The deciding shot set off a wild celebration. Andre Iguodala, who sat out the game with left calf soreness, came racing out of the locker room to celebrate with his teammates. After hugging Jerebko, Iguodala raced back into the locker room for the final 0.3 seconds.
"Andre can do that," Kerr said. "I don't think I can do that. I couldn't pull that off."
Warriors star Kevin Durant offered his take on the last shot.
"It was incredible," Durant said, after scoring 38 points in 40 minutes. "I'm happy for Jonas. I know that he wanted to come in here and kind of impose his will on the team. ... I'm just happy for him that he was able to have that moment."
Durant said Jerebko's contributions to the win went far beyond his 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
"He was calling [Utah's] plays," Durant said. "Yelling to the bench, letting guys know what was going on. He was definitely a vocal leader out there for us tonight."
They didn't want ya Jonas.— klay thompson (@KlayThompson) October 20, 2018
The intensity heightened throughout the contest, as regular Warriors vocal leader Draymond Green got into several chirping matches with the members of the Jazz.
"Forget the win," Green said. "Forget the game. My favorite part was just to start yelling in their bench face. That was the best part. It was a great moment."
Jerebko actually inbounded the ball to Durant with 6.1 seconds left. Durant and Jerebko shared the floor with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Green. Durant took two dribbles to escape the defense of Ingles and rise up from the right elbow. Durant's 15-footer missed, but Jerebko had inside position right under the rim to tap in the miss. Jerebko's former teammates watched helplessly as he flexed in front of the Jazz bench after the ball went through the net.
"Jonas is my guy," Jazz power forward Derrick Favors said. "I was just telling him I was happy for him. But I told him, 'Man, you had to flex in front of me like that on the bench.' We were just having fun talking."
Jazz center Rudy Gobert thought his team had the play defended pretty well.
"When I watch the tape, I don't think I would have done anything different," Gobert said. "I mean, KD was going full speed in my direction. If KD comes and shoots a leaning fadeaway on me, I have to be able to contest. No disrespect, but when you have KD, Steph and Klay, Jonas is the last guy [you worry about]. And he's good. I've seen him do it a lot of times; he's good at tipping the ball in. I kind of gave him a little help on that one, but it's a great play."
Give that man @JonasJerebko some luv DubNation. Way to rock tonight @warriors
- Shaun Livingston (@ShaunLivingston) October 20, 2018
As ESPN's Doris Burke noted during the telecast, Kerr mentioned prior to the game that he liked using players against their former team.
"I knew I was going to play him some," Kerr said after the game. "But I didn't know how much I would play him, and he played well right from the beginning. He hit a couple 3s early, and he was scrapping. The matchup was good for him. I think that's how it's going to be for Jonas. I think he's going to really shine some games. He may not even play in others, depending on matchups. But he was fantastic tonight."
ESPN's Tim McMahon contributed to this report