HOUSTON -- Of the many shocking moments Friday night at Toyota Center, the sight of Jordan Bell coming off the bench and into a crucial game at an important time might rank No. 1.
Warriors fans have seen the Stephen Curry spectacles, the Klay Thompson explosions, the Draymond Green orchestrations, the Andre Iguodala excellence and the Shaun Livingston steadiness.
They’ve seen Kevon Looney wobble into games and make a strong impact at both ends.
Bell, though, was so far down the bench in this second-round NBA playoff series against the Houston Rockets that he was barely visible. Through five games, he had played 11 seconds, four in Game 1 and seven -- enough time to make two glaring errors -- in Game 4.
Yet there he was, playing 11 mostly effective minutes in Game 6 and aiding a 118-113 victory that sent the Rockets home for summer and the Warriors into the Western Conference finals.
“Jordan was really energetic, had a really good run in the first half,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It was critical for us.”
When Green picked up his second foul late in the first quarter, he was replaced by Bell. The second-year forward reemerged in the second quarter, this time for Looney, and played eight minutes.
Moreover, the Warriors trailed by four when Bell entered, and the game was tied when he exited for Looney with 1:16 left in the half.
Bell contributed four points, two rebounds, two blocks and one assist. He earned his minutes, which were the most he has played in any of the Warriors' 12 playoff games thus far.
The injury to Kevin Durant in Game 5 forced Kerr to go deeper into his bench. Suddenly, Bell was needed. He delivered.
“We talk about strength in numbers, but the coach wasn’t doing much of that in the first five games,” Kerr said in self-reference.
With the uncertainty surrounding Durant’s availability for the conference finals, beginning Tuesday against the winner of the Portland-Denver series, it’s conceivable that Bell might see more opportunities.
What he does with them might be a factor in whether the Warriors want to bring him back next season.