SAN FRANCISCO -- Kent Bazemore didn't think he was going to be the Warriors' hero Wednesday night against the Miami Heat. Not even while it was happening.
But, with just under 90 seconds left in regulation, Bazemore hit a mid-range jumper to bring the Warriors (16-13) within two. About 33 seconds later, he tied the game with a driving layup.
"It's nothing you think, you just kind of let the game play itself out," Bazemore said after the Warriors' 120-112 overtime win. "They were giving a lot of attention to Steph (Curry) and they were standing home with Kelly (Oubre) and (Andrew Wiggins) and (Eric Paschall) on the perimeter and I saw a lane against smaller guys and got some good finishes at the rim. It's just being opportunistic, staying within yourself, not trying to do too much, just take what the game gives you."
Bazemore wasn't perfect on Wednesday, but his game-high 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals, outweighed his mistakes.
"Baze led the charge," Steve Kerr said. "He made some huge plays for us, he kept us in it."
This Bazemore is a very different version of the player who signed with the Warriors in 2012 as an undrafted free agent.
In Bazemore's first stint in Golden State, he was the energizer bunny on the bench -- high-fiving teammates, dancing during timeouts and leading the bench celebrations for whatever crazy shot Steph Curry just hit.
Bazemore is still doing those things. But now, he can also inject energy into the game on the court.
"Basketball has done amazing things for me, and I would be slighting myself if I went out there and kind of went through the motions and not give it my all," Bazemore said.
"He's grown up a lot, and he's been through a lot," Curry said. "He was just a great teammate, had great energy, just trying to find his way through the league when he first showed up. He was a fan-favorite because he was always engaged, locked in, and if his button was called, he was going to be ready ... and now, eight years later, he's grown up a lot.
"He's in that mode where he expects to be great with all that experience and that veteran swagger, and tonight that's what showed. We love to see it."
Bazemore's journey in the NBA has been anything but steady. He found a home in Atlanta for five years from 2014 to 2019, but since then, has bounced around the league. When he signed with the Warriors during the offseason, he probably could have found more money elsewhere. But coming back to the Bay Area was a kind of homecoming for Bazemore.
It didn't matter that he didn't play much early in the season -- sometimes not playing at all. Because just like in 2012, he was going to be ready when his name was called.
And he was.
When the Warriors looked to be out of sorts against the Heat, Bazemore gave them something and someone to rely on. His performance bought the Warriors time as Curry found his shot and their defense tightened on Bam Adebayo.
When you watch Bazemore play now, you see the same guy filled with energy just waiting to explode that you did his rookie season. But now, he can take that energy and exert it on the court. He can make a true, tangible difference for the Warriors, and they'll need that from him moving forward.