David Lee posted a double-double with 23 points and 16 rebounds as the Golden State Warriors pulled away for a crucial, 98-88, win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night at ORACLE Arena.
Steph Curry dropped in 20 points while hitting 4-of-10 shots from beyond the arc for the Warriors who maintained their one-game lead over Houston for the sixth spot in the Western Conference standings.
"They're doing a great job of keeping their foot on the gas pedal, running through the rope. I'm awfully proud of them, but we still have a lot of work to do," Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said.
Curry also had nine assists while Jarrett Jack came off the bench to net 19 points and dish out eight helpers. Harrison Barnes chipped in 10 points as well for the Warriors who are seeking their first playoff appearance since 2007.
Eric Gordon had a team-high 21 points for New Orleans, which has lost seven straight on the road.
"We had more defensive breakdowns in the first half than we've had in full games lately," Hornets head coach Monty Williams said.
Robin Lopez had a solid game with 17 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets while Greivis Vasquez tallied 15 points and handed out nine assists. Al-Farouq Aminu dropped in 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the losing effort.
Golden State struggled to find its shot in the first quarter when it hit just 31.8 percent from the floor. Curry had an especially difficult time missing all five of his shots from the floor in the period.
Meanwhile, the Hornets got eight points from Vasquez and shot 47.8 percent overall to take a 28-19 lead into the second quarter.
After New Orleans took a 30-19 lead, matching its largest of the game, early in the second quarter, the Warriors finally found their rhythm. Lee and Curry combined to score 11 points during a 25-6 run that allowed the Warriors to pull ahead, 44-36.
A step-back jumper from Lopez put a halt to the run, but the Warriors would push their advantage to nine points three separate times before halftime on a 3-pointer from Curry and consecutive baskets from Jack in the final minute of the first half. Golden State led 51-42 at the break.
Golden State hit 12-of-19 shots in the second period and had just one turnover while Lee ripped down eight rebounds and Curry dropped in 11 points.
The Warriors were unable to pull away in the third quarter as the Hornets stayed within range. A Vasquez 3-pointer with 5:24 got the Hornets to within two points, 63-61, but Andrew Bogut responded with a layup off an assist from Lee on the other end.
After misses from both teams Aminu cut the deficit to two points yet again with a driving layup with 3:37 remaining.
A little more than two minutes later the Hornets would cut the lead down even further on a jumper from Lopez that had the Warriors clinging to a 69-68 advantage. The Warriors would get a 3-pointer from Jack on the next possession to get some breathing room as they went into the fourth quarter leading 74-70.
Lee capped off a 7-2 burst by the Warriors to start the final frame with a 16- foot jump shot after which they led 81-72.
Brian Roberts responded with a floater on the other end to begin a 6-1 spurt from the Hornets that brought them to within six points, 84-78, with just over five minutes to play.
However the Warriors then ripped off a 14-4 run over the next four minutes capped by a driving layup from Curry to take their largest lead of the game, 98-82, and put the contest away.
Golden State has swept the season series with the Hornets with wins in all four meetings...Gordon was just 5-of-17 from the floor but knocked down 10- of-11 from the free-throw line...Gordon also had a season-high five rebounds...Lee's double-double was his seventh in the last eight games.