OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—From Mike Dunleavy’s opening introduction to his final missed 3-pointer, the booing Golden State fans let their least favorite player know just how much they still despise him.
And after the Warriors finished their 106-101 comeback victory Sunday night over Dunleavy and his Indiana Pacers, the much-reviled forward confirmed that the feeling is mutual.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Dunleavy, who spent his first 4 1/2 NBA seasons with the Warriors. “I couldn’t care less. It’s hard to pay attention and care about something somebody says when you have no respect for them. They can do whatever they want.”
The Warriors got their third win in four games with an impressive comeback led by Monta Ellis, who scored nine of his 29 points in the fourth quarter in an inspired response to a cheap-shot foul by Jamaal Tinsley.
Baron Davis added 27 points for Golden State, but the savvy crowd at Oracle Arena seemed most excited by the chance to boo Dunleavy yet again. Though he’s averaging a career-best 17.3 points as the Pacers’ leading scorer, Dunleavy was a profound disappointment to the Bay Area, with fans booing him regularly and heavily over his last two seasons.
The former No. 3 overall draft pick hadn’t been back to town since he was shipped to Indiana last Jan. 17 along with Troy Murphy in an eight-player trade that sent Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington to Golden State, profoundly altering both franchises.
Though Dunleavy finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in one of his better all-around efforts of the season, he missed a potential tying free throw with 1:34 left—and Indiana never got back in it.
“We were running on fumes this game,” Dunleavy said of the Pacers’ finale on a five-game road trip. “Playing these teams—Phoenix, Sacramento, Golden State—they really wear on you. I thought we got it together in the end, but we couldn’t finish it off. Playing against the old team in the old environment, it was fun. I just wish we could have won.”
Jermaine O’Neal had 27 points and nine rebounds for the Pacers, while Murphy — who also got his share of boos—had just four points and one rebound. Danny Granger added 20 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who have lost nine of 11.
Well before he finally got out of town, Dunleavy came to embody all the empty promise of the Warriors’ 12 straight losing teams. Golden State fans seem to hate everything about Dunleavy, from his inconsistent shot and tepid defense to his flouncy hairdos and perceived arrogance.
In fact, Dunleavy probably was booed more regularly than any Warriors player since 1980s center Joe Barry Carroll—otherwise known as Joe Barely Cares, a moniker that fans felt fit Dunleavy as well, even if most of his teammates disagreed.
“He gave it all here—played hurt, played hard,” Davis said of Dunleavy. “He had great games when he was booed here, so I expected him to have a good game.”
After Dunleavy hit a 3-pointer to put Indiana up 97-93, Ellis and Matt Barnes tied it with 2:36 left on consecutive jumpers. Though Ellis wouldn’t acknowledge it, he seemed to catch a spark from a flagrant foul committed against him by Tinsley in the third quarter.
“Last year, a lot of times, Monta kept his head down after something like that,” said Jackson, who had just nine points on 4-of-15 shooting while battling a flu bug. “If you knocked him down, he wouldn’t always get up as fast. Now, you can’t keep him down.”
Ellis put Golden State ahead 100-98 with a stunning no-look backward layup and a free throw. After Dunleavy missed his free throw, Andris Biedrins—who spent much of the night on Golden State’s bench with a deep thigh bruise— tipped home Ellis’ shot with 17.8 seconds left.
The game ended appropriately, with Warriors fans booing Dunleavy as he missed a meaningless 3-pointer.
The Warriors were four days shy of the one-year anniversary of the trade that rescued them from a 13-year playoff drought. Jackson and Harrington became key parts of the freewheeling core that upset top-seeded Dallas in the first round and got this season’s team off to a solid start.
Golden State got leadership, defense and stellar shooting in the deal while also gaining financial flexibility by ditching the onerous contracts held by Dunleavy and Murphy. Since the trade, the Warriors have gone 45-36 and won their biggest playoff series in two decades, while Indiana is 32-51.
Jackson hit the winning 3-pointer for Indiana in the final second of the Pacers’ previous trip to Golden State last season. … The Warriors will play four Midwest road games in five nights beginning Tuesday at Minnesota. Golden State visits Indiana on Wednesday. … Davis wore a protective sleeve on his sore left shoulder for the second straight game.