OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Baron Davis made two breathtaking dunks in just more than a minute’s span, showing everybody he is quickly regaining trust in his troublesome hamstring.
Davis had 17 points and nine assists in his first game against his former team, and the Golden State Warriors won their third straight with a 99-83 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night.
Davis, plagued by injuries the past three seasons, strained his left hamstring in Golden State’s season opener Nov. 2 and has slowly been working to find his rhythm. He’s close.
“This is probably right where I thought I would be with the hamstring,” he said. “I’m averaging a career-low, but at the same time we’re winning. I’m happy. It’s fun.”
Davis’ latest performance will bring happiness to many others, too.
Davis, acquired in a deal at the trading deadline last Feb. 24, still has a home in New Orleans that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina and pledged $500 toward the disaster relief effort for each point he scored in this game—so, he will be writing a check for $8,500 to go with the $72,000 he already donated to the hurricane victims. The Warriors Foundation is matching the $8,500.
The two-time All-Star point guard didn’t score his first points until 1:39 left in the opening period with a three-point play after being fouled on a dunk. He dunked again barely a minute later. Davis also began selling his signature rubber orange bracelets for $5 with the message “CALL FOR HELP 2006 BD #5” with proceeds going to hurricane victims.
“Once I start knocking down my 3 ball, we’ll be a force to reckon with, Davis said. “I’ve been very patient with my game. I know I’m helping our team win.”
Derek Fisher scored 17 points off the bench for the Warriors, making three 3-pointers including back-to-back 3s during a 14-3 run late in the third quarter that gave Golden State a 15-point cushion heading into the final period. Overall, he was 5-for-6 from long range.
Troy Murphy recorded his seventh double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Jason Richardson added 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists as Golden State won three in a row for the first time this season and improved to 10-6, the team’s best 16-game start since the 1991-92 club began 11-5.
On this night, it was the Davis show.
“It’s fun to watch when your point guard gets up and dunks,” Richardson said. “That lets us know he’s almost there with all the injuries and lets us know he’s getting healthier.”
Chris Paul had 15 points and five assists and David West added 14 points and 11 boards for New Orleans, which had won four of its previous five following a four-game skid and was trying for its first three-game winning streak since Feb. 11-18, 2004, against New York, Indiana and Washington.
“We had no energy,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “We played very passively. It was a passionless game. I hate losing. The effort was 50 percent instead of 100. This is a step backward.”
Desmond Mason came off the bench to score 10 points and grab six rebounds for the Hornets, who are playing this season in Oklahoma City and have an uncertain future.
“We definitely just sat there,” Mason said.
New Orleans stayed close early but couldn’t keep up in the third quarter, when Golden State began the period with a 14-6 spurt and the Hornets shot only 8-for-21.
“They came right at us and took advantage,” West said. “We couldn’t guard them. They shut us down on the offensive rebounds and we weren’t scoring.”
Both teams came out cold from the field, but Calbert Cheaney gave the Warriors a lift in the second quarter with three straight baskets. Davis picked up his third foul 2:50 before halftime, when the Warriors led 46-43.
Golden State’s Mike Dunleavy headed to the locker room with 2:18 remaining in the second quarter after injuring his right side but returned for the second half and finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Hornets forward Bostjan Nachbar sprained his right knee in the second quarter and didn’t return. He had one point and two rebounds in 11 minutes and was listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game at Denver.
Hornets G Speedy Claxton received a mostly warm ovation with a smattering of boos when he checked in late in the opening quarter of his first game back in Oakland since the Warriors dealt him in the Davis trade. He came off the bench to finish with three points and nine assists. “It feels good,” Claxton said of being back. “I went to one of my old restaurants in North Beach.” … California football coach Jeff Tedford watched the game from courtside and so did new Oakland A’s right-hander Esteban Loaiza, who signed a three-year contract worth nearly $21.4 million. … The Warriors beat the Hornets for the third straight time at home. The teams split four games last season.