By Geoff Lepper
Article Launched: 11/28/2007 11:33:21 PM PST
Warriors win on emotion.
SACRAMENTO -- Even as Ann Barnes lay dying this month in a Sacramento-area hospital, her body ravaged by cancer, she had a message for her son.
"She kept telling me I needed to get back out there," Warriors forward Matt Barnes said. "Your team needs you, get back out there with your team."
Little more than 36 hours after Ann Barnes succumbed to her illness, her son's band of NBA brothers took the floor in the Barnes' hometown arena. And they had no intention of letting the Sacramento Kings ruin a Hallmark ending.
Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis combined for 62 points, and the Warriors, after struggling for three quarters, hung 11 unanswered points over the last 3 minutes and 43 seconds to lock down a 103-96 victory at Arco Arena.
Barnes had six points and nine rebounds, but his presence meant far more than that as motivation for his teammates, some of whom were thunderstruck by his appearance after Ann's death early Tuesday. Barnes spent Wednesday working out details of the funeral, which is set for next Tuesday.
"That's why you saw us play hard to the end," said Davis, who knew Ann Barnes from when he and Matt were teammates at UCLA in the 1990s. "We just kept fighting. We wanted to get this victory, knowing how much it meant to Matt."
The Warriors (7-7) thus became the fastest team in NBA history to reach .500 after starting the season 0-6. The 1995-96 Denver Nuggets had held that record, having clawed back from 0-6 to break-even after
"We know what we're capable of doing," Davis said. "We're capable of winning a lot of ballgames. Now having our whole team back, we've got guys stepping up night in and night out, and that's what it's going to take."
After flailing about for much of the night against the Kings' 3-2 zone, Jackson canned 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to turn a 96-92 deficit into a 98-96 lead with 1:22 to go.
"He's just such a great competitor," coach Don Nelson said of Jackson. "When he's in a cold streak and he's missing those, a lot of people complain about that, but that's what he does."
Sacramento missed its last 11 shots from the field. Kevin Martin and Ron Artest, who had 27 and 18 points, respectively, after three quarters, combined to shank 11 of their 12 shots in the fourth quarter, when the Kings scored just 14 points.
The Warriors knocked down 5 of 6 free throws in the last minute to ice it, and one of the final points, fittingly, came from Barnes.
Barnes' mother grew to love the Warriors during their playoff run last season, to the point where she asked her family members to bury her in her personalized jersey.
"All she kept talking about while she was sick was that besides her family, the Warriors are why she's still fighting," Barnes said. "She wanted to see us play more."
Many of Barnes' teammates wore red wristbands bearing "ANN," and Barnes had her name emblazoned on the tongues of his shoes, as well.
Barnes said he considered not playing Wednesday, but his mother's words were still ringing in his ears.
"I was surprised to see him out there," said Kings center Brad Miller, who played with Barnes in Sacramento three seasons ago. "I don't think I could've gone out there under those circumstances."
The highlight of Barnes' night came during a third-quarter stretch when he scored on a fast-break dunk and a 3-pointer after a botched 3-on-1 break.
"In the second half, he kind of put it all together," Nelson said. "He gave us the energy and positive play."
Martin (who finished with a game-high 28 points) and Artest (21) powered the Kings back into a four-point lead before the third period was finished. But Sacramento could never build it past that point, and it wasn't enough of a cushion.
"That's what kind of team we are," Barnes said. "We stuck together like a family, and we won."
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