OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Baron Davis played a lot like his teammates did through a listless first half for the Golden State Warriors. Then he and the rest of the Warriors picked up their game in the fourth quarter, rallying for a victory that even their coach said they didn’t deserve.
Davis scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and played tough defense on Dwyane Wade that helped the Warriors wear down the tired Miami Heat and rally from 18 points down to win for the 11th time in 13 games, 120-113 Friday night.
Coach Don Nelson put Davis on Wade for much of the fourth quarter and the move paid dividends on both ends of the court. Davis forced Wade into missing both shots he took and committing two turnovers in the final 6 minutes, and made the key baskets to fuel Golden State’s comeback.
“I thought it would help that he had to guard and had to step his game up on both ends of the floor,” Nelson said. ‘I thought it helped his offensive game because he was not very good. He wasn’t a good player in the first half. He wasn’t alone. There were three or four guys that didn’t play very well in the first half.”
But the Warriors erased all that with a well-played fourth quarter against a Miami team that wore down on the back end of back-to-back games and lost point guard Jason Williams to a sprained right ankle in the first half.
Miami led almost the entire way in a game played at Golden State’s preferred up-tempo pace. But the Heat wilted in the fourth quarter, getting outscored 21-4 in one stretch.
“I just thought that we got tired,” coach Pat Riley said. “They kept putting the ball on the floor. They kept going to the basket, going to the basket, going to the basket. We couldn’t contain them off the dribble.”
The fresh legs of Davis and Monta Ellis proved to be the difference. Ellis started the big run with an emphatic dunk that cut Miami’s lead to eight. Davis then hit a pair of 3-pointers that gave the Warriors their first lead of the night at 108-107 with 3:16 to play.
“I knew he was going to do it,” Ellis said. “We had too much time on the clock and I saw it in his eyes. I went over there and told him, ‘Do you.’ He just came out and started firing.”
After Wade made one of two free throws to tie it, Ellis hit two free throws and then converted an acrobatic three-point play to make it 113-108. Golden State coasted from there.
Stephen Jackson led the Warriors with 28 points, Davis added 25 and Ellis finished with 21.
“We’re not that strong a team to get away with things like this,” Nelson said. “Normally we wouldn’t but we were playing a back-to-back team and we had a day of rest and they lose their point guard. There were a lot of reasons we won tonight, none of which we probably deserved. We got away with one tonight and hopefully we learned a lesson and we’ll come and play for four quarters instead of two.”
Wade is starting to regain his form after missing the first seven games of the season while recovering from offseason knee and shoulder surgeries. Scoring on fadeaways, drives and his ability to get to the line, Wade had his best offensive game of the season and has now topped 20 points in three straight games for the first time.
But it has been little help for the Heat, who fell to 4-15 with their latest loss.
“It’s a matter of finishing,” Wade said. “Golden State is a team that is really playing well but we should have found a way to win this game.”
Shaquille O’Neal, who complained recently about not getting the ball enough, had 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting in 21 minutes in his 1,000th career game. It marked the sixth straight game O’Neal has failed to get 10 shot attempts and he sat out the entire fourth quarter in a decision Riley said he regretted.
The Heat, who came into the game as the second-lowest scoring team in the league, made their first six shots and scored the first 10 points of the game. Miami shot 14-for-21 overall in the first quarter to take a 39-30 lead with their highest scoring quarter of the season.
The lead expanded to 57-39 when Davis hit a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter. But the Warriors scored the next eight points and trailed 66-56 at the half after Ellis hit an off-balance jumper just before the buzzer.
The Heat’s previous best scoring quarter came in the first quarter of a 106-101 loss to Phoenix on Nov. 9, when they had 37. … Penny Hardaway did not play for a second straight game after averaging 3.8 points in Miami’s first 17 contests. … The Warriors wore throwback jerseys from their 1974-75 championship season.