Published Thursday, November 15, 2012
BY ANTONIO GONZALEZ
AP SPORTS WRITER
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Harrison Barnes ran for the rebound as soon as he saw Stephen Curry shoot from beyond the arc, corralling the ball in a crowd of defenders to give the Golden State Warriors a key possession in the final seconds.
The rookie's hustle highlighted his breakout performance and was the kind of play Golden State had struggled to make during a two-game skid.
Barnes also made a pair of critical free throws late to finish with 19 points and 13 rebounds as the Warriors held off the short-handed Atlanta Hawks 92-88 on Wednesday night. Golden State outrebounded Atlanta 44-29 to overcome 23 turnovers.
"I was reluctant to go to the board on that one," said Barnes, drafted seventh overall out of North Carolina. "When he shoots, not too many times he misses. I definitely wanted to get in that mix, and I knew if he missed we had to get that rebound."
After blowing a lead in a double-overtime loss to Denver on Saturday, Golden State did just enough this time.
David Lee added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Curry scored 12 to put the Warriors ahead by 13 points early in the fourth quarter. The Hawks hacked that lead to two but Barnes and Jarrett Jack each made a pair of free throws to seal Golden State's victory.
The Warriors improved to 4-4 heading into a difficult three-game road trip to Minnesota, Oklahoma City and Dallas.
"It's very big because we get back to 4-4," Lee said. "And just getting off a two-game losing streak is always huge. Now we go on a road trip with some tough stops and we're excited to have some momentum going for sure."
Atlanta's push just came too late.
Lou Williams scored 18 points, including three straight 3-pointers that whittled the Warriors' lead to a basket with 11.2 seconds remaining. Josh Smith added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta, which had Al Horford and Devin Harris out because of a stomach illness.
"It was a gutsy performance by my guys," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "After going down by 12 at one point we fought back. A little short-handed tonight but still we had an opportunity."
The way the Warriors' defense finished was enough to make coach Mark Jackson sick.
Williams made the second of his three consecutive 3s to bring Atlanta within 90-85 with 21.8 seconds left. Curry, who had made a floating layup over Smith on the previous possession, missed a 3-pointer that Barnes tracked down.
Barnes was fouled and made both free throws. He had not had more than 14 points or five rebounds in his first seven games.
Williams made another 3-pointer to slice Golden State's lead to 90-88. Jack, who finished with nine points and four rebounds, was fouled and swished both free throws to secure the victory.
"You're going to have tough nights," Jackson said. "I don't care who you are. The best teams and the worst teams have to be able to respond."
Atlanta has had multiple players get sick during its West Coast trip, though they only missed practices until Wednesday. The latest bug sidelined Horford and Harris. Zaza Pachulia started at center in Horford's place, and even he had to overcome a setback.
Pachulia was cut above his right eye in the first quarter, with blood dripping down the side of his face. He received stitches in the locker room and returned.
With the Hawks hurting on the inside, the Warriors went to work.
Lee led the charge by going at Atlanta's depleted front line, allowing Golden State to play inside-out. He had 14 points and seven rebounds in the first half to help the Warriors take a 54-46 lead.
Golden State withstood several shots from Atlanta.
The Hawks started the third quarter on a 7-1 run to trim the Warriors' lead to two. Ivan Johnson then inadvertently elbowed Warriors second-round pick Draymond Green in the face while going for a rebound late in the quarter.
Green stayed down for a couple of minutes until walking gingerly to the locker room, with Johnson patting him on the chest on the way off the court. The team said X-rays on the right side of Green's jaw came back negative. He later returned.
In the meantime, another rookie helped the Warriors create some separation.
Barnes ignited an 18-7 spurt the lasted through the opening minute of the fourth quarter to put Golden State ahead 73-60. He threw down a put-back dunk that brought fans roaring to their feet, including Warriors owner Joe Lacob sitting in his usual courtside spot, and mixed in a turnaround jumper and a driving layup.
NOTES: The Warriors honored former coach Don Nelson at halftime for his Hall of Fame induction in September. The 72-year-old Nelson, who has an NBA-record 1,335 wins, said he has no plans to get involved in basketball again and is enjoying retirement at his home in Maui, Hawaii. ... The Hawks finish their four-game road trip Friday at Sacramento. ... Warriors C Andrew Bogut will rehab his surgically repaired left ankle in the Los Angeles area during the team's road trip.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
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