OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Baron Davis and Chris Paul traded basket
after basket, pass after pass. The Hornets' star point guards of
the past and present had a scintillating duel, lifting their
teammates on their shoulders.
Luckily for the Golden State Warriors, Davis' shoulders were a
Davis had 36 points and nine assists against his former club,
and the Warriors knocked off the NBA's last unbeaten team with a
121-116 victory over New Orleans on Thursday night.
Paul had a career-high 34 points and 10 assists in another
dominant game, but Davis wouldn't allow the Hornets to extend the
best start in the franchise's 19-year history after opening with
four wins, including a four-point victory over the Warriors in
Oklahoma City two days earlier.
While icing his right foot after the game, Davis was mostly
thrilled by the young Warriors' ability to adjust to injured guard
Jason Richardson's absence -- not by his intriguing battle with last
season's rookie of the year.
"They were playing some of the best basketball in the Western
Conference, so that makes it feel good," Davis said before getting
postgame congratulations from Paul Silas, his former coach with the
Hornets who attended the game.
"They're a team that we're going to be fighting for a playoff
spot. We grew up a little bit in this game. It's only a matter of
time before we start to gel."
Monta Ellis scored 21 points and Murphy added 20 as Golden State
scored easily and often against the Hornets' usually impressive
Davis and Paul both took charge in the fourth quarter, when the
Warriors nursed a narrow lead through the final minutes. After
creating just enough offense to keep Golden State ahead, Davis then
hit five of the Warriors' nine free throws in the final 37 seconds.
"This was carrying a team on his back, basically," Warriors
coach Don Nelson said of Davis, who didn't make a turnover in 44
minutes of action. "I'm awful proud of him. He carried the team.
It was just two big-time guys trying to win the game."
Paul was more spectacular, but not quite as effective as his
Paul's driving layup with 90 seconds left cut Golden State's
lead to 112-108. After Davis hit two free throws, Paul converted an
exceptional three-point play and fouled out Ellis in the process,
cutting the lead to 114-111.
But Davis hit two more free throws to match his highest-scoring
performance since getting a career-high 40 two seasons ago. Paul
then missed a short jumper, and Troy Murphy and Matt Barnes made
two free throws apiece to seal it.
"They had us on our heels, and that's a huge credit to them,"
Paul said afterward while noting his career-high performance on the
stat sheet. "We have a very special team. If we defend teams, the
sky is the limit."
Richardson was scratched from the Warriors' lineup with fluid
buildup in his surgically repaired left knee, but Ellis thrived in
his starting spot while Mickael Pietrus scored 18 points for the
Warriors, who made 51 percent of their shots and hit 13 3-pointers
in the opener of a seven-game homestand.
Both clubs played uptempo offensive games with little consistent
regard for defense. New Orleans had allowed just 90 points per game
in its first four contests, but Golden State surpassed that mark on
Davis' jumper with 6.8 seconds left in the third quarter, putting
the Warriors up 92-83.
Davis, who spent nearly six seasons with the Hornets in
Charlotte and New Orleans before clashing with coach Byron Scott,
steadily attacked the Hornets with his inside-out game. Ellis added
seven points early in the fourth quarter as Golden State patiently
maintained a healthy lead.
"There were times when we cut the lead to six or seven
(points), and they would come up with a big 3-pointer," Scott
said. "I'm pleased that we didn't quit playing, (but) we just
didn't do a good job taking care of the ball."
F Ike Diogu was a scratch with a sprained ankle, and G
Dajuan Wagner was in uniform for the first time this season, though
he didn't play. ... Golden State's homestand matches the longest in
franchise history. The Warriors have 12 home games in November, the
most in any month in franchise history.