Run and gun and fun
Warriors score 122 vs. Hawks; Davis injured
By Geoff Lepper - STAFF WRITER
OAKLAND — It took the Golden State Warriors 24 minutes to exhaust the goodwill from their 14-4 run at the end of last season.
It took them less than a quarter of that time to get all that love back, with interest, from the 18,629 who showed up at the Arena on Wednesday night to see if the Warriors really could recapture the lightning brought about by Baron Davis' acquisition in Februrary.
In a word: Yes.
After drawing a mild round of boos for a decidedly substandard first half which left them trailing by double digits against the Atlanta Hawks — proud owners of 13 whole wins in 2004-05 — the Warriors recouped that with a 27-2 run in the third quarter that evoked all the memories of that running, gunning spring en route to securing a 122-97 victory.
The outcome was no doubt satisfying to the Warriors, who infamously began last year with six consecutive losses, but the total cost is as yet unknown, because Davis, one of three gimpy starters in Golden State's lineup, left the game for good with 3 minutes and 53 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
He went back to the locker room briefly to receive treatment on what team officials termed a strained left hamstring and returned quickly to the bench but never got back in the
His status was unknown.
Davis' absence, however, hardly slowed down the Warriors' bandwagon, which reached breakneck speed in a third quarter that started altogether badly.
Troy Murphy, far and away the Warriors' best player in the first half, picked up his fourth personal foul just 39 seconds in and on the Hawks' next possession, forward Al Harrington grabbed an offensive rebound (something Atlanta did all night) and hit the putback for a 12-point lead.
That would mark the high water mark for the Hawks, who found out exactly why the second-largest opening-night crowd in Oakland history was on hand.
Trailing 65-55, the Warriors' comeback began with a pair of seemingly innocuous free throws from Mike Dunleavy. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Dunleavy and Derek Fisher got the Warriors to within two points, and Davis found Jason Richardson for a three-point play the hard way, with a finger roll over $70 million man Joe Johnson, who fouled him on the play.
Richardson, who finished with a game-high 28 points, converted the free-throw for a 66-65 lead, but the deluge had only begun.
As the Hawks unraveled, throwing up air balls when Adonal Foyle and Richardson weren't rejecting their shots with impunity, Golden State tossed in 16 unanswered points, including a ridiculous 45-foot pass from Dunleavy to Davis, who took the ball in stride for yet another layup.
By the time the third quarter was over, with the Warriors' outscoring the Hawks by a 39-16 count, Golden State's lead was up to 13, and undrafted rookie Aaron Miles had made his debut in place of Davis.
Miles wasn't the only rookie to see action for the Warriors last night. Big man Chris Taft checked in for the first time 71/2 minutes before halftime, and was a positive revelation.
Hampered by injury for much of training camp, the second-round pick out of Pittsburgh hadn't had a chance to show much of his game in the exhibition season, but he provided some impressive interior toughness during a first half when the Warriors were being outrebounded by a 28-19 count. He finished with four points, four boards and two blocks.
The Warriors briefly held a 27-26 lead at the end of the first quarter — at least until referee Joe Crawford ruled Mickael Pietrus' last-second jumper did not, in fact, qualify as buzzer-beating.
But that score was more mirage than reality, solid work from Murphy (six points, five rebounds) masking the Warriors' poor free-throw shooting and five turnovers from Dunleavy.
When Atlanta got dialed in for the second quarter, things got ugly in a hurry.
The Hawks converted on five straight possessions to take a nine-point lead within the first three minutes. Golden State chipped away for the rest of the period, behind eight points from Richardson and seven from Murphy.
Are the Warriors going to make the playoffs this season? Send your opinion and reasons why to Turn2@angnewspapers.com. Include first/last name and city.
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