Van Exel, playing a backup role because of a sore left knee,
either tied the score or gave the Warriors the lead with five of
his seven fourth-quarter baskets, including a long 3 with 20
seconds left that proved to be the winner.
"He's giving the other guys confidence because of his ability
to hit shots," Warriors coach Eric Musselman said.
Golden State has won four in a row.
"I can't be afraid to take it," Van Exel said. "That's the
way I've played all my life. If I miss it, I fail. If I make it, I
help the team, and that's what it's all about."
Said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich: "Nick is Nick. He loves
that mano-a-mano stuff. He got it done for them."
Tim Duncan, who missed a wide-opener 20-footer in the final
second, led the defending NBA champion Spurs with 27 points and 15
rebounds. Tony Parker added 19 points, and Rasho Nestorovic had 14
points and 11 rebounds.
"We made too many mistakes down the stretch," Duncan said,
Mike Dunleavy and Brian Cardinal each had 11 points for the
Warriors, and Erick Dampier had 16 rebounds. The Warriors' 8-7 mark
going into December marks the first time they have been above .500
at this point in the season since 1994.
San Antonio had an eight-point lead in the second half, but
Golden State rallied behind strong 3-point shooting. The Warriors,
who entered the game 29th in the league in 3-point shooting, were
9-of-18 from long range.
Duncan was called for an unusual technical foul in the third
quarter. After a jump ball with 3:35 left in the period, referee
Jack Nies got tangled up with a player, and couldn't get out of the
San Antonio free-throw circle. Duncan cut to the high post and put
both hands on Nies to clear some room, and Nies tumbled to the
floor. He immediately bounced up and called the technical foul.
The crowd of 17,680 was the Warriors' largest at home this
season. ... Warriors coach Eric Musselman said Van Exel could
return to the starting lineup as soon as Wednesday night against
Denver. "Nobody's given me a pitch count," he said about Van
Exel's minutes. "We're doing it by feel' ... Both teams played
Saturday night. Golden State won at Phoenix, and San Antonio lost
to the Los Angeles Lakers.