The Warriors were welcomed to the city of Santa Cruz with a sold out crowd at the brand new Kaiser Permanente Arena, as they pulled out a tough victory against the visiting Bakersfield Jam 93-88.
The Jam jumped out to an early lead, but after the Santa Cruz players settled down, and the crowd gave them a kick start in the energy department, they took the lead and never looked back.
"They (the crowd) were great," said head coach Nate Bjorkgren. "I walked out there with probably two or three minutes on the clock. I tried to stay back there(in the locker room) as long as I could and it was great. I felt it right when I walked in. Just all from the crowd. I could here them roar when our team took warm-ups and just through the game. I thought they were great."
The Warriors led by double digits many times in the game, but the Jam continuously cut down the lead, once all the way down to four points. Jeremy Tyler and Kent Bazemore were both on assignment from the Golden State Warriors and had sensational games, and while Tyler had a big first half with several put-back dunks finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds the turning point of the game came when Kent Bazemore did his best Kobe Bryant impression in the fourth quarter and shut the door on any comeback attempts by the Jam.
"You know watching him last night(Kobe Bryant), it's kind of inspirational to see a guy I've been watching so long grow to take over game's like that," said Bazemore who finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.
"To be able to come out here and have the ball in your hands late down the stretch it says a lot about my teammates and coaches for trusting me to have the ball in my hands."
Again the Warriors flexed their muscle on the defensive end of the court and in the rebounding department. They held the Jam to a lowly 36.7 percent shooting from the field and out-rebounded them 52-47.
"Everything that we do we've been preaching that for a long time," said Bjorkgren. "But team defense is the most important thing in this league and we spend a lot of time in film sessions and we spend a lot of time in shoot-around this morning just talking about it over and over and by playing that team defense. Offense is going to be more fun for you if we can get stops."
Throughout the game there were stops sprinkled in due to scoreboard issues and moisture on the floor. Coach Bjorkgren said that these were "expected" delays and that he had prepared his team for the first day jitters from all involved in the new arena.
Once again Travis Leslie and Taylor Griffin scored in double figures for the Warriors with 15 and 11 respectively. Chris Johnson had a solid night for the Warriors scoring 11 points on only his third game with the team.