OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Since being acquired in an early season trade from New York, Golden State guard Jamal Crawford could count the Warriors’ memorable wins on one hand.
He’ll have to use his other hand now.
“It’s up there at the top,” said Crawford, leaning back in his chair with big bags of ice taped to each knee. “To miss three of our top scorers, and I felt awful before the game … that ranks up there at the top. To play a team like that who is really playing for something and in the thick of the playoff race, it shows where we can be potentially.”
The Warriors haven’t had a lot to celebrate lately.
Golden State had lost five of six and 13 of 19 before stunning the Hornets, who are jockeying for home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
A win would have moved New Orleans into fourth spot in the West but instead the Hornets dropped into sixth, a half-game behind Houston, after losing on the road to Golden State for the first time since 2006.
“We just didn’t come out ready to play,” New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. “It’s a bad loss, that’s the bottom line. It’s not a loss that we expected to get but I also expected us to come out with a lot more passion to start the game than we did. We paid the price.”
Anthony Morrow had 24 points on a career-high five 3-pointers, the last of which gave the Warriors a 99-92 lead with 2:36 remaining. Chris Paul scored on a quick layup to pull New Orleans within five, but that was as close as the Hornets got.
C.J. Watson added 11 points off the bench for the short-handed Warriors, who suited up just eight players for the third time in four games after point guard Monta Ellis was a late scratch due to a jammed left ankle.
“You never know where your wins are coming from and where your losses are coming from, I think that’s the lesson tonight,” Golden State coach Don Nelson said. “We made shots all through the game but certainly at the right time. Crawford was sensational the whole game. A couple of turnovers that cost us but for the most part played a super all-around game.”
Paul had 43 points, nine assists and four rebounds, and David West added his 25th double-double of the season with 31 points and 14 rebounds for New Orleans, which lost for only the third time in nine games. Peja Stojakovic, playing his first game after being sidelined since March 2 because of back spasms, had seven points in 25 minutes.
The road to the postseason doesn’t get any easier for the Hornets, either. Five of their final six games are against teams in playoff contention, including road games against the Rockets and San Antonio to close out the regular season.
“It’s going to be tough,” Paul said. “The biggest thing about our team is we just gotta pick up the intensity. We have to get to the point where even our opponents see it in our faces that we mean business.”
New Orleans trailed by 15 points in the first half, nine at halftime, and was behind 70-58 midway through the third quarter before West helped the Hornets make it close.
After scoring just six points in the first half, West had 16 in the third quarter including 10 straight during one stretch. He added three in the first 3 minutes of the fourth quarter and later made a 12-foot jumper to pull New Orleans to 86-85 with 6:07 remaining.
Golden State still led by one after Paul’s soaring dunk down the lane but Watson made a 20-footer and Morrow followed with four straight points to help the Warriors pull away.
“Me and Anthony (Randolph) were just talking about how the game’s starting to look a lot clearer to us,” Morrow said. “We both had certain issues, ups and downs, through the season but we really feel like we’re becoming more comfortable in the system.”
The win was Golden State’s second straight after a five-game losing skid.
Ellis, who scored a career-high 42 points Wednesday night in an overtime win over Sacramento, was in Golden State’s original lineup and took part in the pre-game shootaround before pulling up hurt. According to a team spokesman Ellis jammed his left ankle late in overtime and stressed that the injury is not related to Ellis’ previous ankle injury that has sidelined him for 50 games this season.
The game marked Nelson’s 3,363rd in the NBA as a player or coach, tying Lenny Wilkens for most in league history. Nelson will pass Wilkens for the top spot Sunday when Golden State plays at Sacramento on Sunday. … Marco Belinelli (right ankle) suited up so the Warriors would have the minimum eight players. He did not play. … The teams split the season series 2-2.