After spending much of the past three months in hoops hibernation, Jonas Jerebko resurfaced Tuesday night and reminded the Warriors why they hired him last summer.
The 6-foot-10 forward came off the bench in the second quarter and stunned not only the Minnesota Timberwolves but also the Warriors by lighting up the scoreboard at a level usually reserved for the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
Jerebko took three 3-pointers and made them all. His 4-of-6 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 shooting from the free-throw line translated to 14 points in nine minutes.
Who was that guy?
“I haven’t played him much at all, and the guys were taking a lot of joy from Jonas’ performance,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after a 117-107 win at Target Center. “He’s just a pro. He comes out there and hasn’t played in about a month and stays ready and does that. That’s why he is who he is.”
Jerebko scored 18 points in 18 minutes -- the first time he hit double figures since Dec. 22, when he rang up a season-high 23 points in a win over the Dallas Mavericks. For someone who hadn’t seen much action, Jerebko's timing and rhythm was flawless.
The Warriors signed Jerebko in hopes of getting some offense off the bench. To be specific, they identified the veteran power forward as someone capable of stretching the floor, making life easier for his teammates.
And for a while, they were getting what they wanted, with Jerebko drilling 37 3-pointers in his first two months as a Warrior.
But he made just 18 triples over the next three months. His shot deserted him, his minutes vanished and he became a cheerleader.
The roles were reversed Tuesday. His teammates were enjoying the Jerebko Show.
“If he knocks down those shots and keeps shooting them with confidence, he builds off that,” Kevin Durant said. “He made his first few. And then he got going. He’s driving to the rim, he’s shooting hook shots. You knock a few shots down, then your confidence is through the roof.”
Jerebko kept busy by putting in work. There were times when he wondered where he fit, if he still fit and whether he’d have another chance. He only knew that if the opportunity came, he would have to produce.
“Stay in the gym,” he said. “Get early to practice, get shots up and work on your conditioning and always stay ready. Control what you can control.
“It helps when you’ve been in the situation before, which I have. I’m confident in my abilities, so like I said, I’ve just got to stay ready and help the team out whenever they need it. That’s all I can do, and tonight was a good night.”
With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the coaching staff is assessing the roster, evaluating individuals and pondering matchups for the playoffs. They believe there will be games when Jerebko can make an impact.
If his shot is falling as it did Tuesday, that would apply to any game and any opponent.
“He fits their system well, and he can shoot the ball well,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “If you allow him to be comfortable, he’s a difference maker for that team.”
Not every defense will allow him or anybody else the privilege of comfort. Jerebko knows that. The Warriors know that.
They only hope one comfortable night can lead to a few more in the coming weeks.