NEW ORLEANS — Before embarking on a critical three-game road trip, the Warriors had lost eight of their previous nine games away from home. What a difference a couple of road victories can make with the playoffs in sight.
Stephen Curry scored a game-high 30 points and David Lee added 20 points and 11 rebounds for his 45th double-double of the season as the Warriors buried the New Orleans Hornets 93-72 Monday night for their second road win in as many nights.
What particularly pleased Golden State coach Mark Jackson was his team’s ability not to “waste” a 30-point road victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night. The Warriors (39-30) showed up going full throttle and held the struggling Hornets to 14 points in the second quarter and 11 points in the final period to close out a solid defensive effort at the end of each half.
The Hornets made just 28 of 83 shots from the field - 33.7 percent - and were an abysmal 3-of-17 from long range. The Warriors shot 50 percent from the field, including 10-of-19 from long range.
Jackson simply was thrilled there was no letdown.
“It means something,” Jackson said as the Warriors extended their hold on sixth place in the Western Conference to two full games over the Rockets. “You look around this league, and the teams that end up with big wins, for whatever reason, have a letdown. We understood that. If we were going to lose, you lose it with energy, effort and efficiency.”
The lone blemish on Curry’s effervescent night was his loose ball-handling. The silky guard, who torched Houston for 29 points in a 108-78 win on Sunday, committed seven turnovers against the Hornets, who tried frequently to blitz him into giving up the ball.
But Curry more than made up for that by nailing 6-of-9 from 3-point range, including a 29-footer with 7:44 left that put Golden State up 78-65.
“He was careless,” Jackson said of Curry. “He’ll be the first to tell you that. But, I’m not going to pull him out. I like the way he battled. When it mattered most, he made plays. Somehow, he makes us a better team and me a better coach.”
Curry agreed with Jackson’s evaluation of his bad passes, but those were a lot easier to take when his shots were pouring through the net. The victory also validated the Warriors’ big win over Houston.
“If we had a drop in energy tonight, it would mean nothing,” Curry said. “This was a big win for us. I’m on a roll and I’ve got to continue to be aggressive. But I can’t turn the ball over seven times. I’ve got to make plays.”
Curry has such range on his jump shot that his 29-footer from the top of the key looked as nonchalant as a free throw.
“I thought it was kind of a low clock - it was definitely under seven seconds,” Curry said. “I didn’t know where I was, but I’m confident. If I take it, I can make it.”
Ryan Anderson led the Hornets (22-46) with 21 points, but the normally reliable long-range shooter was just 1-of-6 on 3-pointers. New Orleans (22-46) got as close as 80-72 with 5:50 remaining on Greivis Vasquez’s 3-pointer. But Golden State ran off 13 consecutive points, capped by Curry’s sixth 3-pointer of the game, to pull away.
“We took a lot of bad shots,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “We had some shots in the paint that we could not finish.”
“I had some good looks that just didn’t fall,” Anderson said. “We just missed too many open shots.”
The Warriors used a 19-4 run the final 9:07 of the second quarter to erase a 32-26 deficit and grab a 45-36 halftime lead. The Hornets went 11 consecutive possessions without scoring and scored just two points in the final 5:49 of the second quarter.