Warriors get out kinks, then get hot in 2nd half
Janny Hu, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, November 3, 2005
Troy Murphy, who was perfect from the field Wednesday, go... Jason Richardson has reason to shout after being fouled d... Golden State Warriors' Jason Richardson reaches through a... Warriors' Derek Fisher passes the ball through Atlanta Ha... More...
Maybe Mike Montgomery shouldn't have used the term "sucker-punched" to describe last season's 0-6 start. Eager to erase the memories of that winless beginning, the Warriors, in essence, got sent to the canvas in the first half of Wednesday's season opener.
Golden State had to rally from a 12-point deficit against last year's worst team before blowing out Atlanta 122-97 in front of 18,269 at the Arena in Oakland. Jason Richardson led the Warriors with 28 points and Troy Murphy added 19 on a perfect night from the field.
But the most important line might be the status of point guard Baron Davis, who reaggravated his left hamstring in the third quarter and did not return. Montgomery said Davis' status for Friday's game against Utah would be clearer by this morning.
The Warriors can ill afford to lose their star, who began Golden State's comeback by finding Richardson for an open 3-pointer to start the third quarter. Davis posted nine of his 15 points in the period as the Hawks -- who won only 13 games last year and four on the road -- stumbled against a renewed Warriors defense.
The Warriors forced six turnovers and held Atlanta to 27.6 percent shooting in the period. More impressively, they went on their 27-2 run mostly after Davis went down to help turn a 10-point deficit into a 15-point lead.
"Just because one of our stars goes down, doesn't mean we can fall down," Richardson said.
The Warriors did a faceplant to start the game, showing little energy and even less defense. Atlanta went inside on its first four possessions, earning three easy layups and missing on a fourth. Meanwhile, the Warriors turned the ball over six times in the first six minutes, with Mike Dunleavy serving up five on bad passes.
New Atlanta point guard Joe Johnson took advantage by slashing through the Warriors' flimsy defense for nine quick points, and the Hawks led by as many as eight points before the Warriors rallied.
Murphy scored six points in the quarter to go along with five rebounds. The Warriors closed out the period on a 7-0 run and came within milliseconds of taking the lead. After Tyronn Lue missed a layup with 2.9 seconds left, the Warriors pushed the ball up the court and Mickael Pietrus hit a long jumper as the buzzer sounded. Officials later reviewed the play and waived off the basket.
Pietrus made up for it immediately by opening the second period with a driving lay-up. But the real trouble started when Davis came out of the game 27 seconds later, as the Hawks went on a 10-0 run in the next three minutes.
"I felt like we could regain control of the game, but we were just making mistakes," said Derek Fisher, who had 12 points and five assists.
"Not rebounding, not picking up the extra man, turning the ball over," Richardson said. "It was just first-game jitters."
The Warriors were outrebounded 47-38 and turned the ball over 19 times. They shot 58.1 percent from the field and 64.4 percent from the foul line.
Since they couldn't make a free throw all night, Golden State came back by scoring in threes. Davis and Richardson opened the third quarter by hitting back-to-back 3s, and the Warriors climbed to within 65-63 on another 3 by Fisher.
They finally took the lead on a 3-point play by Richardson with 6:58 remaining in the period. It was Golden State's first lead since Mickael Pietrus opened the second quarter with a layup, and matched its biggest advantage of the game up to that point.
Among the game's biggest surprises was rookie Chris Taft, who checked in with 7:25 left in the second quarter after Andris Biedrins ran into foul trouble. Taft came through with several hustle plays, including tapping a Richardson missed 3-pointer back to Richardson, who was then fouled and hit two free throws.
On the next possession, Taft sent a shot by Tyronn Lue into the stands. He finished with four points and four rebounds.
"Everybody was 'Defense, defense -- we get stops, the run will happen,' " Taft said. "We got a crazy run going and it didn't stop."
E-mail Janny Hu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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