As Steve Kerr tried to move on from his hug with Steph Curry at center court following the Warriors' win Tuesday night at Chase Center over one of the best teams in the NBA, Curry pulled his coach back in to extend the embrace a little longer.
They shared a smile and what can only be assumed to be a giant exhale. After dropping seven of their last eight games, the Warriors had just beaten the Milwaukee Bucks, 122-121.
"A win deserves a hug," Kerr said.
This win gives the Warriors a 24-27 record, a two-game cushion in the 10th seed in the Western Conference and a glimmer into how the Warriors can make the elusive run over the final 21 games of the season they've talked so much about.
Curry dominated with 41 points, while James Wiseman had one of his best games of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Kelly Oubre continued his steady play with 19 points, while Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green came up big when they needed to on otherwise quiet nights. The Warriors' bench pretty much matched the production of the Bucks, and Golden State held its own on the boards.
Add it all up, and the Warriors played with joy and confidence -- which hasn't happened in a while.
"You could see a lot of emotion tonight from everybody," Curry said. "We all knew how much we needed this. You want to maintain that joy and energy, and hopefully come Friday, Saturday, put together two really good performances and give yourself a chance to win and sustain that. That's all you can do at this point.
"With the good vibes and joy and energy that we had tonight, you have to stay even-keeled. That's kind of how I'm trying to approach this, knowing it was a good win. Much necessary for us ... and find ways to bottle that up."
Maintaining this energy and enjoyment will play a role in the Warriors working out of their funk down the stretch.
Now, before diving into what actually needs to happen on the court, it's important to acknowledge that the Warriors have been in this position before, as Curry alluded to. Outside of a three-game winning streak, Golden State hasn't sustained much success this season.
That being said, the Warriors should be encouraged they kicked some nasty, costly habits.
Chief among those adjustments? Defending without fouling.
Over the last 36 hours, cutting back on fouls was the message that was drilled into the Warriors' head over and over and over again.
"We had practice yesterday evening, we didn't talk much about X's and O's," Curry said. "The only thing coach said was that he gave us a quote of how many free throws we need to limit [the Bucks] to. That's all he said in terms of X's and O's. I guess we remembered that and finally executed that."
"We had enough transition offense after either it was a make and getting out quick or a miss, pushing in transition, where we could soften them up a little bit and that gave us a little more flow for the majority of the game," Curry continued. "Offensively, you have more rhythm, you get better shots, guys get involved and the morale of what you're trying to do stays high because for us, as soon as you hear a whistle, it's like PTSD ... tonight, that was the difference."
Perhaps it was the clear, unfiltered frustration the Warriors were experiencing after their losses to the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks that lit the fire under them, sparking the attention to detail they've lacked, yet needed, all season.
Maybe it's that they know they only have 21 games to secure a play-in berth, let alone a playoff spot.
Whatever the reason, it worked against Milwaukee. And with the return of disciplined basketball along with happiness and confidence, the Warriors making a run seems possible in a way it hasn't yet this season.
"There's still this glimmer of optimism in my bones, coach Kerr is echoing it as well, we're really so close to breaking it open," Kent Bazemore, who led the bench with 18 points, said. "Even with everything we've been through, we're still a really, really good team once we put the things in the right place to give us that confidence, like tonight."