Published November 06, 2010
OAKLAND, Calif. – Stephen Curry returned from an ankle injury to score nine points over the final 2:35, lifting the Golden State Warriors to an 85-78 victory over the short-handed Utah Jazz on Friday night to stay unbeaten at home.
David Lee had 14 points and 15 rebounds for his fifth double-double in as many games, tipping in a miss with 21.8 seconds left to help clinch it. Lee is showing the Warriors he is very much the reliable player on both ends of the court they expected after acquiring him in a July trade with the New York Knicks.
Monta Ellis added 23 points and a career-high seven steals and Andris Biedrins grabbed a season-best 20 rebounds for Golden State (4-1), which under first-year coach Keith Smart is off to its best start since the Warriors began 5-0 in 1994-95 only to falter to a 26-56 finish a year after making the playoffs.
Golden State is 4-0 at Oracle Arena for its best home start since 1990-91.
Raja Bell's uncontested layin tied the game at 72 with 3:17 to play, then Lee missed two free throws with 3:02 remaining.
Curry, who was back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a mild right ankle sprain, then came up big. He hit a go-ahead 18-footer with 2:35 to play and then converted a steal into a spinning layin and a three-point play the next time down to make it 77-72 with 2:11 left.
Curry, last season's runner up for Rookie of the Year, went through his pregame routine and deemed himself good to go. Wearing a brace on the tender ankle, he finished with 20 points on 7-for-17 shooting and dished out six assists in 33 minutes.
Ellis nailed a 20-footer with 54.8 seconds to go.
Deron Williams scored 23 points for the Jazz after he came within two rebounds of a triple-double in a 125-108 victory over Toronto on Wednesday. Al Jefferson added 16 points and 15 rebounds and Paul Millsap 12 points and 11 boards.
The Jazz also missed some key fourth-quarter opportunities. Ronnie Price bricked a breakaway dunk attempt with 9:08 remaining that would have pulled Utah within one, then C.J. Miles airballed a 3-point try from the top of the arc on the next Jazz possession.
Curry tossed a behind-the-back pass to Lee for a powerful two-handed dunk with 7:39 to play, putting the Warriors up 66-61.
Smart, who took over in late September for the departed Don Nelson, has the new-look Warriors playing with emotion and energy — even if it doesn't always look pretty. Golden State won this one shooting 37.6 percent, including 2-of-14 showing from 3-point range.
But the Warriors crashed the boards to create second chances to help make up for it, outrebounding the Jazz 52-46. Golden State snapped a three-game losing streak to the Jazz overall and a three-game skid in the series at home. The Warriors will take some momentum onto the road for a five-game East Coast trip starting Sunday at Detroit.
Utah held the Warriors below 100 points — 89 and 94 — in both their visits to Oracle Arena last season.
Jerry Sloan, Utah's 20th-year coach, remained four wins from passing Pat Riley (1,195) to become the third all-time winningest coach in the NBA. Nelson is the leader with 1,335 victories in 31 seasons coaching Milwaukee, Golden State, New York and Dallas.
The Jazz played without Kyrylo Fesenko for the second straight game after he showed up for Wednesday's shootaround but wound up sidelined with a gastric ailment. Mehmet Okur is still sidelined after rupturing his Achilles' during the first round of the playoffs last season.
Jeremy Evans missed his second consecutive game with a sprained right wrist.
Notes: Biedrins posted his fourth career 20-rebound game. ... Curry had aggravated his ankle in each of the first two regular-season games after hurting it in the preseason finale. ... The Warriors won their first six home games in 90-91. ... Golden State has held a rebounding advantage in four of its first five games, going 4-0 in those contests. ... The Warriors began shooting in the south basket for a change — as Sloan is believed to be the only NBA coach who chooses to have his team shoot into the basket in front of his bench in the second half.