OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Don Nelson’s players gathered around him as soon as the game ended to pose for a picture and give their coach the game ball to commemorate his 1,200th win.
After failing in his first four attempts to reach that milestone, it was more of a relief than a celebration.
“The pressure was starting to mount,” Nelson said. “It’s good to get it out of the way.”
Mickael Pietrus scored 22 points and keyed a run that broke the game open early in the fourth quarter to help the Warriors snap their four-game skid with a 101-80 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night.
With the win, Nelson joined Lenny Wilkens (1,332) as the only coaches with at least 1,200. Nelson wants to get the game ball signed by Wilkens when the Warriors play at Seattle on Sunday night. Wilkens, who led SuperSonics to the NBA title in 1979, is now a team executive.
Despite the enthusiasm from his players, Nelson downplayed the accomplishment, noting that he also has 890 losses in 28 seasons as a head coach.
“It just means that I’ve been around a long time,” he said. “Look and see who is one of the top guys who’s lost games and I’m right there, too. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do this a long time.”
After watching his team lose consecutive games by a combined 68 points in San Antonio and Houston to extend a losing streak to four games, Nelson convened a two-day minicamp to reinforce defensive fundamentals to his struggling team.
The lessons paid off as the Warriors held an opponent under 100 points for just the second time in 10 games, holding New Orleans to 12-for-34 shooting in the second half.
“We just needed to get back to doing the little things,” forward Andris Biedrins said. “In the two days during the minicamp, we really just stuck to the same things we did during training camp and it really helped.”
It also helped that Golden State was matched up against a New Orleans team missing three of its five leading scorers.
The Hornets were also playing the second half of back-to-back games following a 20-point loss at Seattle that prompted coach Byron Scott to rip his players for their lack of effort and focus. Scott said his team’s effort was better this game but the poor shooting doomed the Hornets.
“Guys are getting wide-open shots and missing,” Scott said. “On the other end, we’re contesting shots and they’re making them. So right now if you look at our team, we’re not a very good basketball team.”
New Orleans was dealt another blow when Desmond Mason missed most of the third quarter with a loose filling. Mason scored 22 of his team-high 24 points in the first half for the Hornets, who have lost seven of eight.
The Warriors took advantage of Mason’s absence to break open the game. Pietrus hit the first two baskets after halftime, and Golden State scored the first six points of the quarter to break a tie score and cap an 18-3 run.
Davis stole an outlet pass from Rasual Butler and converted a three-point play to give Golden State a 73-62 lead with 32.6 seconds to go in the quarter.
“In the second half we started to turn the ball over a little bit,” Mason said. “We had some good looks and we missed some shots.”
Golden State scored the last five points in the third quarter before opening the fourth on a 9-2 run, capped by a 3-pointer and emphatic two-handed jam by Pietrus that made it 82-64.
Monta Ellis, who sprained his left foot in practice Friday, scored 17 points for Golden State. Biedrins added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Davis finished with 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
Jannero Pargo had 15 points and 12 rebounds despite shooting 4-for-15 for New Orleans. Butler had 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting and Chris Paul scored 11 on 4-of-12 shooting as the Hornets struggled against Golden State’s 3-2 zone.
Mason’s 9-for-9 first-half shooting helped New Orleans break out to 42-33 lead. But the Warriors then went on a run, getting back-to-back breakaway dunks by Ellis in the final minute of the half to cap a 12-1 spurt. Mason hit two free throws in the final seconds of the second quarter to tie it at 45.
The Hornets were without swingman Peja Stojakovic (back spasms), forward David West (strained right forearm) and guard Bobby Jackson (cracked left rib), who account for 46.1 points and 16.6 rebounds per game. … The Hornets committed 21 turnovers, giving them 48 the past two games.