OAKLAND, Calif. -- A 20-game winner before New Year's for the first time in 32 years, the Golden State Warriors don't need a lot of help these days.
But they got it nonetheless Friday night from a very unusual source -- Dwyane Wade -- en route to a 96-89 home win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
David Lee scored both right- and left-handed during a personal 8-3 flurry late in the game to ensure the victory, but the difference in Golden State's 12th triumph in 14 tries against Eastern Conference competition this young season could very well be traced back to a second-quarter stunt Jarrett Jack once saw Wade pull on Mike Bibby.
The 76ers appeared primed to cut into a 38-34 deficit when Dorell Wright raced into the frontcourt ahead of the pack after a steal. But Klay Thompson got close enough to unintentionally step on the back of Wright's right shoe, snapping a shoelace and causing it to slip off his foot.
Wright not only was denied an easy hoop, but when Jack took a page out of Wade's book and flung the sneaker several rows into the Oracle Arena crowd, the 76ers had to retreat on defense with only four players properly attired.
Jack wound up hitting a 3-pointer against the short-handed defense, extending Golden State's lead and leaving 76ers coach Doug Collins scratching his head at a timeout he was forced to call in order to get Wright off the court.
"If you throw a ball into the stands, you get a (technical foul)," Collins assessed. "I know the refs enforced the rules the right way, but that's something we need to revisit as a league."
Jack was laughing all the way to the 3-point line.
"You're not going to believe me, but I didn't want anybody to step on it. I didn't want anybody to turn an ankle," he claimed. "I didn't mean to throw it so far.
"I saw D-Wade do it to Mike Bibby. It's not like I'm breaking a mold here. We ended up getting a 3 out of it, so I'm happy."
On a night when his team missed 15 of its 20 shots from beyond the 3-point arc, Collins clearly wasn't.
"A shoe and a 3," he noted. "Kinda a double-whammy."
To add insult to injury, a ballboy had to make the long trek from the visitors' bench to the visitors' locker room to retrieve Wright a new pair of shoes. By the time he took the orthotics out of the old ones and slipped them into the new pair, he'd missed a full 2 1/2 minutes of game action and his team had fallen behind by 11.
"There are no shortcuts back there," the ex-Warrior said of the path to what for the last two seasons had been his opponents' dressing room. "That was a five-minute little hassle there."
Down 20 midway through the third period, the 76ers used a 17-3 burst to get back into the contest, then hung within 82-77 with 8:09 left in the game following a pair of Lavoy Allen buckets.
But Lee dropped in a righty hoop in the lane and followed with a pair of lefty interior baskets to more than offset a Royal Ivey 3 at the other end. And when Lee went outside for a 16-footer, the Warriors had a 90-80 advantage they we able to massage into their 20th win of the young season.
"All year long he's been making plays in the fourth quarter," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said of Lee, whose 25 points and 12 rebounds gave him his 19th double-double of the season. "We ran our offense through him. Tonight, David was the best player on the floor."
Backup Carl Landry (15 points, 11 rebounds) also recorded a double-double for the Warriors, who at 20-10 are north of the 20-win mark in December for the first time since 1980. Jack buried a pair of 3's among his 16 points in another key role off the bench.
Jrue Holiday (21 points, 10 assists) and Thaddeus Young (19 points and 10 rebounds) recorded double-doubles for the 76ers, who were playing their third of eight consecutive games on the road.
In the end, poor 3-point shooting (5-for-20) doomed the visitors' chances of building upon Wednesday's impressive win at Memphis.
"I thought we lost our composure offensively," Collins analyzed. "When you do that offensively, you can't defend."
Notes: The last time the Warriors won at least 20 games before New Year's was when they were 21-18 during the 1980-81 season. ... Collins noted before the game when his team gets a combined 40 points in free throws and 3's, it usually wins. When it doesn't, it usually loses. He had it right on this night: The 76ers were outscored 42-29 by the Warriors in those two areas. ... The game pitted teams missing their starting centers named Andrew, with neither organization willing to guess when the 76ers' Bynum (bilateral knee bone bruises) and Warriors' Bogut (left foot surgery) will return. ... Both clubs are back in action Saturday night, the 76ers in Portland after a two-hour flight north and the Warriors at home again against Boston. ... The 76ers and Warriors have both benefitted from a three-team trade in the offseason that landed Wright in Philadelphia and Jack in Oakland. Wright recently got promoted to the 76ers' starting lineup, while Jack is an early candidate for the NBA's Sixth Man Award. ... Asked before the game if he thought the Warriors had "staying power" after their 19-10 start, the 76ers' Collins responded with a definitive: Yes. "They're a feel-good team. When you watch them play, it looks like they like to play," the ex-broadcaster observed. "They've got depth and they've got good chemistry."