OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—The Golden State Warriors in first place? Believe it.
“Pinch me,” eight-year veteran Adonal Foyle said. “It’s a great feeling. It’s a testament to a bunch of hardworking guys who are beholden to each other.”
Jason Richardson added 22 points, including a rim-jarring jam in the final seconds, as the Warriors moved into sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division for the first time since March 2, 1992. Foyle was 16 years old back then.
The Warriors haven’t made the playoffs since the 1993-94 season.
“Anytime you’re in first place, it means something but don’t put too much into it,” said Davis, the point guard whom many credit for the turnaround. “We still have a tough schedule, and the competition is getting a lot stiffer. We can’t afford to play up and down. We could easily go on a five-game losing streak. We have to sustain a high level, and I like our chances.”
The Warriors’ youngest player, Andris Biedrins, was 5 the last time Golden State was atop the division. Biedrins gave the Warriors the lead for good with a dunk early in the final quarter.
“We actually feel like we squandered a couple of games along the way,” Murphy said. “We’re happy where we are but December will be the real gauge.”
Emeka Okafor had 19 points, 10 rebounds and matched his career high with six blocked shots for the Bobcats, who lost their eighth straight on the road and third overall. Brevin Knight added 19 points and nine assists.
Okafor recorded his 12th double-double, second only to Denver’s Marcus Camby, who has 13. The Bobcats made a team-record 43 free throws.
A pair of 3-pointers by Murphy and Fisher gave the Warriors a 95-87 advantage going into the final five minutes. They held on after trailing for most of the night against the second-year Bobcats.
“When you shoot 33 percent from the field and stay in the game you don’t have to hang your head,” Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. “We took the shots and they just didn’t fall. They took it from us.”
The Bobcats lost Kareem Rush with a left index finger injury. He left the game with 7:07 left in the third quarter and didn’t return. He will undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Rush’s streak of 11 consecutive games with a 3-pointer ended after he missed both of his attempts.
Foyle helped spark a 13-3 run for the Warriors to open the second half. He scored five points and grabbed four rebounds, including a key offensive board, as Golden State took a 67-60 lead.
The Warriors missed 10 of their next 11 shots, allowing the Bobcats to regain the lead and head into the final quarter with a 77-75 edge.
“Their big guys gave us all kinds of trouble inside,” Warriors coach Mike Montgomery said. “Okafor was a beast and he changed minds about going inside.”
Charlotte outscored the Warriors 12-6 in the final 3:39 of the first quarter to take a 30-24 edge.
The game ball had to be replaced 30 seconds into the second quarter when a fan dropped his beer to protect himself from an errant ball headed out of bounds under the basket. The ball landed squarely in the middle of the puddle, delaying the game for several minutes.
Mike Dunleavy was whistled for his third foul with 3:33 left in the first half and was clearly unhappy about it. He had a discussion with referee Sean Corbin and knocked a plastic container of chalk from the scorer’s table, which bounced across the court leaving a trail of white dust.
Rush gave the Bobcats a 57-54 halftime lead after grabbing an offensive rebound and hitting a 13-foot fadeaway jumper in the final second.
Charlotte F Sean May returned after missing three games with soreness in his right knee. … The Warriors next play on Wednesday, the first time they get more than one consecutive day off this season. … Bobcats C Jake Voskuhl missed the game with a sprained right ankle. … Montgomery coached Knight at Stanford in the mid 1990s. “I love Brevin,” Montgomery said. “I enjoy watching him play. He’s a great player.” … The Bobcats were 4-37 against the West last year, 1-9 against the Pacific Division. … Foyle recorded his 25th career double-double. … Davis was called for a technical by Dick Bavetta in the final five minutes after throwing a piece of gum in objecting to a call.