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Trayce Jackson-Davis ignites Dubs to dominate Bucks in game-changing victory


Not many players can do what Warriors rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis did to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors‘ commanding 20-point halftime lead over the Milwaukee Bucks stood at six when Steve Kerr called timeout with 5:33 remaining in third quarter. Coming off Sunday’s humiliating loss to the Boston Celtics, the Dubs suddenly seemed en route to yet another defeat in a game they’d previously led by double-digits.

Trayce Jackson-Davis, though, had other ideas. Kerr deviated from his initial rotation to get the rookie big man on the floor after the timeout, hoping his gravity as a vertical spacer would unlock Golden State’s cramped half-court offense. Klay Thompson found Jackson-Davis for a finish at the rim on the ensuing possession, drawing two defenders after flying around his teammate’s off-ball screen.

That development, at least, was entirely predictable. What definitely wasn’t is the game-changing impact Jackson-Davis would soon make on the other side of the ball.

Less than a minute of game time later, Giannis Antetokounmpo let the inbounds pass roll toward halfcourt while sizing up an awaiting Jackson-Davis. The two-time MVP picked up the ball, took a few dribbles, then quickly crossed over from left to right, counting on knocking Jackson-Davis back en route to the rim. But the rookie barely budged, immediately regaining his ground to swallow Antetokounmpo’s layup, bringing Chase Center to its feet. The crowd roared even louder moments later, when Jackson-Davis blocked Antetokounmpo’s put-back attempt then ran the floor for an alley-oop dunk in secondary transition.

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“Absolutely,” Jackson-Davis told ClutchPoints when asked if he felt the momentum shift in Chase Center. “I think the first thing was Klay getting me going with that first basket. Then the help-side D with Giannis was great—whoever just stepping over making plays, timing.”

Jackson-Davis’ game-changing third quarter stint wasn’t close to finished. He even had another highlight-reel sequence highlighted by a block on Antetokounmpo and dunk on the other end, this time as a help defender and in empty side pick-and-roll action with Chris Paul.

“It was huge and I told him ‘thank you you saved me,’ because I was awful in the third quarter, missing layups and turning the ball over,” Draymond Green told ClutchPoints of Jackson-Davis’ stint. “Steve got me out of there and he got Trayce in and he was blocking shots, he was rebounding, he was dunking the ball, good finishes. He just brought the life back to us, they were starting to make their run, and when you’re playing against a great team they’re always going to make a run. You try to get yourself out of it and I just couldn’t get going there in the third quarter. Trayce came in and saved me for sure because I was awful, but saved the day for us and built the lead back up, I think they cut it to six and he was able to make a lot of plays on both ends of the floor to get us back in the position to take control of this game again.”

Trayce Jackson-Davis earns bigger role with Warriors

Trayce Jackson-Davis shined alongside Stephen Curry in the Warriors win over the Celtics

The Warriors were back in control by the start of the fourth quarter, putting the Bucks away for good shortly thereafter en route to a blowout 125-90 victory. Jackson-Davis finished with 15 points, six rebounds and four blocks while missing just one of his eight shots, all that production coming in just 19 minutes off the bench.

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After the game, Kerr made clear Jackson-Davis had earned himself a lasting promotion in Golden State’s rotation.

“We gotta get Trayce more minutes to get him ready for the playoffs,” Kerr said. “He needs reps, he needs more time. You can see what he did tonight. He has an ability to finish and to block shots that gives us a different look.”

That ‘different look’ made all the difference in what could’ve been another dispiriting Warriors letdown. Instead, Jackson-Davis’ explosive two-way exploits sparked his team to one of its most impressive wins of the season—a hopeful harbinger of more team and individual success that could come going forward now that he’s finally set for consistent minutes.

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About the Author

Jack Winter is a veteran NBA writer and editor based on the West Coast. He currently lives in Oakland, covering the last legs of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty.


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