Josh Smith watched intently while Jason Richardson whirled through the air for a 360-degree slam that brought the Golden State fans to their feet.
Smith might be the current dunk contest champion, but Richardson has two trophies back at home - and Richardson also has a complete game to back up his high-flying skills.
Richardson scored 31 points, Derek Fisher added 20 and the Warriors sent the Atlanta Hawks to their 17th straight road loss, 101-96 on Wednesday night.
After Tuesday night's loss at Sacramento, Smith said he didn't want to be known only as the dunk champion at the expense of an all-around game. Richardson, who also won in his rookie year, has felt exactly the same way for two seasons - and he has taken a significant leap forward this year, becoming the Warriors' leader on the stat sheet and in the locker room.
"I was little worried about the five-day break," Richardson said. "I thought we would be a little rusty, but guys were ready to play and came out hard. We're basically starting four guards, so we try to get up and down the court."
Richardson didn't enter the dunk contest this season, but he might be persuaded to return later in his career when he has established himself as much more than an acrobat - and if a car or another really good prize is offered.
"I still think (Smith) would beat me. I'm getting old," Richardson said. "That boy gets up. I congratulated him before the game. We're trying to keep the dunk contest alive. It's one of the most exciting things at the All-Star weekend."
Troy Murphy had a season-high 20 rebounds for the Warriors after missing their final 10 games before the All-Star break with a broken left thumb. Golden State, which went into the break with a surprising road win over Seattle, returned with a solid effort against the moribund Hawks, who have the NBA's worst record at 10-43.
Antoine Walker scored 27 points and rookie Josh Childress had 17 points and a season-high 15 rebounds for the Hawks, who have lost five straight to the Warriors. Atlanta, which hasn't won on the road since a victory in Detroit on Dec. 10, lost its sixth straight overall.
Golden State took control with a 14-0 run in the second quarter, holding the Hawks scoreless for nearly five minutes.
"We do a great job fighting back and giving ourselves a chance to win, but we have to stop killing ourselves early like that," Walker said. "We have to let teams chase us for a little while. It would be fun to have teams chase us, because we exert so much energy trying to get back in the game."
Atlanta never got closer than six points until the final minute, when Walker hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 97-94.
But Fisher hit a fallaway jumper with 9.8 seconds left to clinch the Warriors' second victory in eight home games. Mike Dunleavy also scored seven of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.
The Hawks had another frustrating outing after losing at Sacramento on Tuesday night, again giving up too many easy baskets. Moments after getting a technical foul, Atlanta's Tony Delk went to the locker room in the second quarter with a bruised left hand.
"We outplay a team for three quarters, and then give up one quarter that costs us the game," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "It's a fine line, winning on the road. You have to almost play a perfect game. In the second quarter, it was obvious that we just didn't have it."
The Arena was buzzing with rumors of the Warriors' apparent negotiations with New Orleans to acquire guard Baron Davis, but a club spokesman insisted no deal was imminent. Dale Davis, the veteran forward believed to be in the talks, had four points and four rebounds.
"Really? I'm going to call Baron right now," Richardson said when he heard the rumors. "I'm on the phone right now. Me and B.D. are good friends. That would be huge for the franchise."
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Greg Beacham / Associated Press
Posted by SloMo at 5:35 PM
Thursday, February 10, 2005
A little perseverance paid off for the Golden State Warriors.
Jason Richardson scored 11 of his 32 points in the final 3:24, and the Golden State Warriors defeated the Orlando Magic 113-109 Tuesday night to snap a 10-game road losing streak.
"It's been tough for us, because there's a lot of games where we gave a good effort only to come out on the short end," said Derek Fisher, who added 25 points. "It feels good to get this win. A lot of times when your effort isn't rewarded, you start to get down."
Coach Mike Montgomery added: "We just aren't getting positive feedback, and a win on the road was huge for us."
The Warriors, who had lost 17 of 19 games, also snapped an 11-game losing streak in Orlando.
"I reminded the guys we hadn't won here in 13 years," said Richardson, who had 11 rebounds. "Guys didn't know that and it really woke them up."
Golden State shot 47.6 percent, the first time in nine games it topped 45 percent, and enjoyed its season high for scoring in a non-overtime game.
"We played their (fast) pace and got up and down with them," Richardson said. "They really allowed guys to penetrate and that's what we did. When they stopped our penetration, we kicked it out to the open man."
Down the stretch, Montgomery went almost exclusively to the two-man game of Richardson outside and Adonal Foyle inside.
Foyle scored 13 of his season-best 15 in the fourth quarter, and his free throw with 1:07 remaining snapped a 107-all tie. After Grant Hill missed a jumper, Richardson's layup put the Warriors up by three with 14.4 seconds left.
Richardson shot 11-for-22 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the line. Foyle made six of nine shots, but missed four of seven free throws.
"We were playing a 2-5 pick, and they were really keying in on me," Richardson said. "So, we had to get it into the big fella down there. He did his job, got the ball and made some big shots for us."
The Magic have lost four of five.
Orlando has struggled against bad teams, with nine of their 23 losses to teams with records currently below .500. But Steve Francis was on target when he called this their "most degrading loss of the season."
"I don't think guys came focused," said Francis, who had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists before fouling out. "Defensively, we didn't have any intensity.
"I'm tired of doing this by myself. I'm the only one who's mad out there. We've got to have other guys step up and be physical. Take fouls if you have to, but don't let guys just put up their hands by their head, just lay the ball up, just shoot, just do whatever they want to."
Hill added more calmly, "I think we're all mad. We're all frustrated. We're all searching for answers."
Hill led Orlando with 28 points, including the Magic's first 12 and last six.
Richardson had 14 of the Warriors' first 17 points, while Fisher made his first four 3-point tries. Golden State led 61-57 at the break after closing the second period on an 18-7 run. The team shot 55 percent, making six of 11 3-pointers.
The Warriors hadn't scored that many points in a half since they last played Orlando, on Dec. 10. In that game, the Warriors held a 65-64 halftime lead but lost by five.
"We got into a real rhythm," Richardson said. "Started off the same way last game - lot of scoring in the first half, up and down, easy baskets for both teams. We just stuck with that."
The Magic shot 52 percent in the opening half, despite missing nine of their last 12 shots. Thursday, when Golden State plays at New Orleans. ... Orlando center Kelvin Cato, plagued by injuries all season, made his first start in six games. He had 12 points and eight rebounds. ... Orlando trainer Ted Arzonico worked his 1,000th career game.
Posted by SloMo at 3:08 PM