OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—After a miserable first half that brought back memories of the bad old days, a few fans booed the Golden State Warriors off the floor.
Baron Davis ordered his teammates to ignore it, but they responded with a second half that showed they might have been listening.
Jason Richardson scored 28 points and Davis added 15 points and seven assists before leaving with a strained left hamstring during the decisive third quarter of a 122-97 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.
After missing 11 free throws, making 14 turnovers and getting soundly outrebounded in the first half, the future looked a whole lot like the dismal past for the Warriors, who have had 11 straight losing seasons. Davis insists this team is different: It has an edge and a poise that’s been lacking in Golden State since 1994.
So Golden State made an electric 27-2 run in the third quarter of both clubs’ season opener. The Warriors scored 39 points in the third quarter and 36 more in the fourth, even after Davis was reduced to a cheerleader with an apparently mild strain.
“Who cares about some boos?” asked Davis, who thinks he’ll play Friday against Utah. “We know what we’ve got to do. I told the fellas at halftime, ‘The one thing we don’t do, we’re not going to play to the crowd, especially if they’re booing us.’ When we start playing, they start cheering.
“People who were booing us probably weren’t even Warriors fans, so who cares?”
Troy Murphy had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Warriors, who erased a 10-point deficit with an impressive ease. Mike Dunleavy and Derek Fisher hit 3-pointers to jump-start the lengthy run, and Richardson added a pair of high-flying dunks.
Davis cheered from the bench while Richardson and the Warriors finished off Atlanta with an impressive series of drives, 3-pointers and crisp fast breaks.
“We can’t fold when guys get down like that,” Richardson said. “We’ve got to keep coming. We got a few bad things out of us in the first half, and you couldn’t hold us back after that.”
After finishing last season with 15 wins in 20 games amid several dazzling performances by Davis, the Warriors haven’t been such a hot ticket since the days of the Run-TMC trio and rookie phenomenon Chris Webber. The club sold more than 4,000 additional season tickets during the offseason in anticipation of a breakthrough year.
Mickael Pietrus scored 18 of his 20 points after halftime, and Derek Fisher added 12 points and five assists.
Al Harrington scored 18 points, while newcomer Joe Johnson had 17 but couldn’t score in the middle two quarters for the Hawks, who went 13-69 last year during the worst season in franchise history—and then were scarred by the sudden death of backup center Jason Collier on Oct. 15.
“You’ve got to give them credit, because they got after us, and we went the other way,” Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. “I don’t think it was just Joe. It was whoever handled the ball for us. Everyone struggled to make plays with the basketball. That kind of takes the starch out of your offense.”
Marvin Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in last June’s draft, had 12 points in his NBA debut for the Hawks, who led 65-55 with 8 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Golden State made a 44-14 run over the next 12 minutes, ensuring Atlanta’s fourth straight loss in Oakland.
“We were just inexperienced,” Johnson said. “We had a nice lead, and when they started making their run, everybody was trying to do it themselves instead of sticking with the game plan. … We were inexperienced at a time we needed good leadership.”
Johnson, acquired from the Suns in the offseason in a controversial trade, vented his frustration with a flagrant foul on Pietrus with 3:48 to play.
Tyronn Lue had 16 points for the Hawks, who lost their fifth straight opener — all on the road.
Dunleavy, who signed a five-year, $44 million contract Monday, made five turnovers in the game’s first 6:12. He finished with 11 points. … Both teams used 11 players in the first half. … Hawks G Tony Delk missed the game for personal reasons. … Rookie Chris Taft played 17 minutes for the Warriors, scoring his first NBA points on a dunk with 9:44 to play.