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Lee, Warriors swat Hornets

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- David Lee believes Anthony Davis is going to be a quality player in the NBA someday.

The eight-year veteran's goal Wednesday night: Don't be the rival who kick-starts the 20-year-old's stardom.

In a matchup of marquee power forwards, Lee dominated last June's No. 1 overall draft pick, and the Golden State Warriors overcame Stephen Curry's foul trouble to beat the New Orleans Hornets 98-88 at Oracle Arena.

Wrapping up a five-game homestand with a fourth win, the Warriors (43-32) needed the victory to retain a one-game advantage over Houston (42-33) for the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Rockets also won Wednesday, beating the Sacramento Kings.

Lee recorded his 50th double-double of the season with 23 points and 16 rebounds, none bigger than an offensive board over the taller Davis that produced two free throws with 4:27 remaining, allowing Golden State to short-circuit a four-point New Orleans run that narrowed the Hornets' deficit to 84-78.

Lee had a jumper and a right-handed hook over Davis as the Warriors scored 16 of the fourth quarter's first 24 points to extend what had been a tenuous, 74-70 advantage.

"The thing about a double-double: It means I'm doing more than just one thing," said Lee, whose 20/10 game was his league-leading 28th of the season. "It means I'm aggressive offensively, but it also means I'm rebounding, and that's something I take a lot of pride in.

"We were last in the league in rebounding last season. We've turned that around this season, and it's the main reason we've got a chance to make the playoffs. We were planning our vacations last year at this time."

The loss of was the 49th of the season for the Hornets (26-49), who are seven games away from getting maximum time off and, before long, a new nickname. When Davis is next seen matching up with Lee, it'll be as a Pelican.

"I have a lot of respect for him," Lee said after the rookie struggled through a 2-for-11 night on which he finished with six points and nine rebounds. "That's a kid with a great future in this league.

"My biggest thing on Davis to start the game was not to have him looking for offensive rebounds. He got one off a free throw, but other than that, he didn't hurt us from outside or on the glass."

The Warriors did a good job contesting Hornets jumpers all night, limiting the visitors to 39.8 percent shooting overall and just a 4-for-15 effort from 3-point range.

"We have been playing at a high level defensively. That's good to see," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "Now the objective is to continue it closing out the season."

Curry, who began the fourth quarter with four fouls, buried a 3-pointer to open the period and increase the Warriors' lead to seven. However, the Warriors' star guard collided with rival Greivis Vasquez on an inbounds play on the Hornets' next possession, drawing a fifth foul and earning a trip back to the bench.

Vasquez made two free throws to cut the gap to five, but the Hornets then missed their next six shots, a span during which Jarrett Jack, Lee and Carl Landry countered with Warriors hoops to create a 83-72 margin with 7:52 to go.

Brian Roberts ended the New Orleans drought with a driving hoop, and an Al-Farouq Aminu 20-footer eventually got the Southwest Division's last-place team within 84-78 with 5:14 remaining, but Lee then outjumped Davis for an Andrew Bogut miss, his final rebound of the night, to produce two key points as the Warriors were able to hold on.

The win allowed the Warriors to sweep the season series 4-0 from the Hornets, who were coming off a 4-3 homestand and tipping off a five-game road swing.

Curry backed Lee with 20 points to complement nine assists. Jack was an invaluable asset off the bench with his backcourt mate in foul trouble, contributing 19 points and eight assists to the win.

Eric Gordon, getting 10 points at the free-throw line, led New Orleans with 21 points. Robin Lopez had 17 points, Vasquez 15 and Aminu 14 for the Hornets. Vasquez added nine assists.

"I was pretty tough on (Davis) tonight because I didn't like him giving in and not playing well," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "Give Golden State credit. They were really physical with (Davis)."

After leading by as many as 11 in the first quarter and trailing by as many as nine in the second, the Hornets had themselves in a position to win entering the fourth quarter, down by just four.

Gordon and Aminu had eight points apiece in the third period for the Hornets, who rallied from a 51-42 halftime deficit to within one late in the third period.

For Gordon, there's a personal goal in what might otherwise be considered a meaningless, season-ending stretch.

"I just want to continue to show that I'm capable of playing at the caliber that I was before having all of the injuries," he said. "I want to keep playing as many games as I can and just show that I'm strong and healthy."

A 3-pointer by Jack reopened a four-point gap for the Warriors, which they took into the final 12 minutes.

NOTES: The last time Golden State swept a season series from the Hornets, it was 1995-96, the Hornets were still in Charlotte, and Dell Curry, Stephen's father, averaged 19.5 points per game in the two losses. ... The Hornets' Vasquez finished the four-game season series averaging a double-double against the Warriors with 14.3 points and 11.0 assists per game. ... The Hornets not only finish the season with six of eight on the road, but they also catch no break in the level of competition, with six of the eight opponents currently jockeying for playoff position. ... Speaking to the media before the game, the Warriors' Jackson campaigned for Jack, acquired from New Orleans in the offseason, for the NBA's Sixth Man Award. "Jamal Crawford has had a great year, and J.R. Smith has had a great year, but Jarrett Jack is the Sixth Man of the Year," he said. "What he has brought to this basketball team, what he has meant to us in the locker room and on the floor and with closing ballgames and making big plays ... he's been a steal for us."
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