OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Stephen Jackson screamed and waved his arms while he backed through the furious crowd, heading to the locker room after his first-quarter ejection.
Baron Davis remained calm. He knew Golden State’s hopes were even more firmly on his shoulders now—and there’s nobody who wears responsibility better for the Warriors.
Davis had 34 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds, piloting the Warriors through an excellent second half in a 135-128 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Jason Richardson scored 23 points and Andris Biedrins had 24 points and 12 rebounds in the Warriors’ seventh win in nine games. Thanks to Davis’ late-game poise against Gilbert Arenas and the surging Wizards, Golden State (33-37) remained a half-game behind the eighth-place Los Angeles Clippers (33-36) in the Warriors’ quest for their first playoff berth since 1994.
Golden State scored 71 points and had just five turnovers in the second half, with 22 points and 10 assists from Davis, who has led the Warriors to seven wins in his eight games since returning from left knee surgery.
When Jackson was ejected for arguing a foul call late in the first quarter, Davis picked up the slack for his fellow starter with his best game since returning for the playoff push.
“I told Coach, ‘Just use me, let me burn out, all the way out,”’ Davis said. “In the second half, we were able to force the tempo and then get our hands on balls we couldn’t get in the first half. It was a game of runs, and the team that made the biggest run was going to pull it out.”
Arenas had 29 points and a season-high 13 assists against his former team in another frenetic, end-to-end game between two clubs whose last meeting had one of the NBA season’s stranger endings. Arenas hit three free throws, including one from a technical foul on Warriors coach Don Nelson, with 0.1 seconds left in a 107-106 victory for Washington.
There were no such shenanigans in the rematch—just these clubs’ entertaining combination of inspired offense and indifferent defense.
“We had the momentum in the first half, and then in the third period, they took the momentum,” Arenas said. “They stole the ball, got open shots, and Baron Davis started taking it to the rim, getting easy baskets.”
Golden State erased Washington’s double-digit first-half lead with a 38-point third quarter in the rematch, but the Wizards rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit. The Warriors led 126-117 with 3 1/2 minutes left before five points and a key steal by Arenas cut the lead to two.
But Richardson hit his fourth 3-pointer of the night, and Davis scored three quick points. Arenas added a 3-pointer, but Davis hit Biedrins for a layup with 21 seconds to play in Golden State’s fifth straight home victory.
“It was unbelievable,” Nelson said. “I didn’t think I could play him 37 minutes, and he did get tired, (but) he was such an integral part of all the success we were having that I needed him on the floor. He was terrific for us. He wouldn’t let us lose.”
Antawn Jamison scored 20 points and Darius Songaila added a season-high 17 for the Wizards, whose three-game winning streak against Golden State was snapped. Jarvis Hayes scored 14 points in the Wizards’ third game in four nights during a five-game, seven-day West Coast road trip.
The Warriors trailed by 12 points late in the first half thanks to Washington’s 64 percent shooting, but Golden State claimed the lead with a 14-2 run to open the third quarter. Davis scored 10 of Golden State’s 38 third-quarter points—including a 3-pointer over Songaila in the final second— for a 102-95 lead.
“They make you turn the ball over, and they’re first in fast-break points,” Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. “We just came out in the third quarter and gave it away. Baron Davis can really turn it up on both sides of the ball.”
Washington won the clubs’ last meeting 19 days earlier when Arenas drew a foul on a drive in the final second—and an official hit Nelson with a technical foul for arguing the call, allowing Arenas to win it at the line.
Biedrins also had a career-high five assists. … Caron Butler, Washington’s All-Star forward, missed his fourth straight game with a bruised left knee, but could return later on the road trip. … Oracle Arena was sold out for the seventh time this season.