Jack: 'Everybody's showing how much it means to us'
The Warriors' magic number stands at three thanks to a win over the Hornets and Utah's loss. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Before Wednesday’s 98-88 win against New Orleans, Warriors coach Mark Jackson again went to bat for guard Jarrett Jack’s candidacy for Sixth Man of the Year.
When it was over, he was singing the same tune.
“He’s an extension of me and he’s a playmaker,” Jackson said. “Tough, competes, leads. I’m tired of saying it; the guy is the Sixth Man of the Year.
“It doesn’t get any better off the bench.”
Playing against his former team, Jack’s calming presence was key as the Warriors erased a slow start and turned it into a runaway win.
“That’s my role,” Jack said. “It’s not necessarily defined into doing one specific thing. It’s not like I have to come in and score or do this. I just come in and try to be a positive charge for the team.”
The team’s vocal leader finished with 19 points and eight assists as the Warriors (43-32) finished their five-game home stand with a 4-1 record to remain a game ahead of Houston in the Western Conference standings. With Jack on the court, Golden State outscored New Orleans (26-49) by 20 points.
The Warriors move to 11 games over .500 for the first time since Feb. 6 with seven games left in the regular season.
David Lee had 23 points, 16 assists and four rebounds -- the first time he’s reached those figures in the same game as a Warrior.
The Warriors’ sixth win in their last eight games followed a script Jackson would like to continue into the postseason. They held the Hornets to just 39.8 percent shooting, marking the fifth win in that span in which the team has held its opponent to below 40 percent.
“We did a very good job paying attention to the game plan, having game-plan discipline and forcing them to make plays on our terms,” Jackson said.
It was that defensive effort that allowed the team to keep it close despite a slow first quarter in which the Warriors were just 7-of-22 (31.8%) from the field. New Orleans led 28-19 after one, but things changed quickly in the second quarter.
After New Orleans extended the lead to 30-19, it was outscored 32-12 the rest of the quarter and the Warriors led 51-42 at halftime.
“We haven’t had a three-day break before a game since before the All-Star Break,” Stephen Curry said. “I think we were just a little rusty and heavy-legged (in the first).”
After three Greivis Vasquez free throws cut Golden State’s lead to 77-72 with 11 minutes, 26 seconds left in the game, it was all Warriors. They slowly grew the lead throughout the fourth until Jackson cleared the bench up 98-82 with 1:31 on the clock.
Curry had a miserable first quarter, finishing 0-for-5 from the field, but scored 11 points in second to get Golden State back on track. All of his 20 points came in the second and fourth quarters.
It was the first season sweep of the Hornets (4-0) since Golden State took both games from the Charlotte Hornets in the 1995-96 season.
Eric Gordon scored 21 points to lead the Hornets.
Next up – at Phoenix, Friday
The Warriors will hit the road for their first away game in over two weeks when they play at Phoenix (23-52) on Friday. Golden State took the first three games against the Suns this season and has won five straight since losing 102-91 on Jan. 2, 2012. Phoenix has lost its last seven and 11 of 12 following its loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
Denver 113, Utah 96: Seven players scored in double figures for the Nuggets (51-24), who handed the Lakers a half-game lead for the final playoff spot with a win over the Jazz (39-37). The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Utah, which hosts the Hornets on Friday before traveling to Golden State on Sunday.
Houston 112, Sacramento 102: The Rockets (42-33) remain a game back of Golden State for the No. 6 spot. Chandler Parsons scored 29 points and James Harden added 21 in the win.
8-year-old Impresses During Anthem
It’s rare when the National Anthem sends Oracle Arena into a frenzy, but 8-year-old Nayah Damasen did just that.
Here is her singing at a San Jose Giants game last year: