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Barnes' clutch free throws lift Warriors past

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND -- Harrison Barnes doesn't like to think negatively, but he couldn't help himself with the game on the line Wednesday night.

The Golden State rookie bounced in a couple of critical free throws with 21.8 seconds remaining to save the Warriors' 92-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, two points that he was the first to admit weren't nearly as easy as they might appear in the boxscore.

"I remember watching from the bench those missed free throws in the Denver game," Barnes recalled of late failures by Klay Thompson and Carl Landry in Sunday's double-overtime loss to the Nuggets. "I wanted to make sure I made them."

Jarrett Jack dropped in a pair 11 seconds later as the Warriors, getting a key hoop from Stephen Curry in the final minute, held off a late barrage by Atlanta's Lou Williams.

After the Warriors had nearly seen a 13-point lead disappear because of poor shooting and ball-handling in the final period, Curry countered a Williams 3-pointer with a driving left-handed floater along the left side of the key, giving Golden State an 88-82 lead to protect in the final minute.

"Actually, that's a shot I practice quite a bit," the right-hander said. "It was kinda a broken play. I knew I had to get a good look."

Williams buried two subsequent 3-pointers to give the Hawks a chance, but Barnes turned an offensive rebound into a pair of free throws and Jack duplicated the feat, allowing Golden State to even its record at 4-4.

With a three-game trip to Minnesota, Oklahoma City and Dallas tipping off Friday, Curry and Barnes both considered this more than any win in a long season.

"I felt it was a must-win, especially after what happened the other night against Denver," Curry insisted.

Added Barnes, "We knew it was a big game tonight. We needed to rebound more. We got killed (on the boards) against Denver, especially down the stretch."

The Warriors overcame 23 turnovers with a 44-29 rebounding margin and a 46-20 advantage in points in in the paint. Barnes (19 points, 13 rebounds) and David Lee (18 points, 10 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles as the Warriors dominated the interior play in the absence of Hawks standout Al Horford (virus).

Williams led the Hawks with 18 points, 12 coming in the final period as the visitors nearly fought all the way back from a 73-60 deficit with less than 10 1/2 minutes to play. Backup big man Ivan Johnson helped Williams in the comeback cause, dropping in three consecutive hoops early in the quarter. Williams finished with 15.

"We're going to fight to the end. We're always going to fight," Williams assured. "We felt like we had a chance to win it and we just didn't make the plays."

Josh Smith had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who fell to 3-4 with a second loss in three games on their current four-game trip.

"We definitely could have used Al (Horford) without a doubt," Hawks coach Larry Drew noted. "But this league is about guys not being able to play, and you have to step up.

"We did have some guys (step up). Ivan Johnson did a phenomenal job. He gave us a huge lift. And I thought (Lou Williams) did a great job. We just came up short."

NOTES: Hawks center Zaza Pachulia needed five stitches above his right eye to close a cut sustained in the first quarter. He returned to action and logged a total of 24 minutes. ... Warriors backup Draymond Green left the court for X-rays after accidentally taking an elbow in the jaw. The X-rays were negative. ... Warriors center Andrew Bogut did not attend the game. He left the team Tuesday for a prolonged visit to see Dr. Richard Ferkel in Los Angeles. Ferkel is expected to monitor Bogut's continuing rehabilitation from ankle surgery for about a week. Bogut will not make the Warriors' four-day trip to Minnesota, Oklahoma City and Dallas that tips off Friday. ... Several Hawks have been ill during their road trip. Smith and Williams got sick in Portland and sat out Monday's shootaround. Horford and Devin Harris were in even worse shape Wednesday in Oakland, both missing the game with viruses. ... The Warriors paid tribute to Don Nelson before, during and after the game as part of their "Hall of Fame Night." Interestingly, the NBA's all-time winningest coach with 1,335 victories is only the second-winningest coach in Warriors history. Tops on the list, Al Attles, also attended the festivities. Attles had 557 wins as Warriors coach, compared to Nelson's 422.
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