David Lee is making a compelling case for the All-Star Game.
Lee had 25 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, to help the Golden State Warriors hold off the Philadelphia 76ers 96-89 on Friday night at Oracle Arena.
Lee was 9 of 19 from the floor, 7 of 9 from the free throw line and grabbed 12 rebounds for his 19th double-double of the season.
“We ran our offense through him,” said Warriors coach Mark Jackson. “We posted him up. We isolated him and he made plays. Tonight, David was the best player on the floor.”
“I just tried to be aggressive the entire game,” said Lee. “When they were helping, I tried to make plays for other people. It was a little bit of a tough game for me just because they threw different sizes at me and different kinds of defenders. But I just tried to keep being aggressive.”
Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry continue to make valuable contributions off the bench. Jack had 16 points and six assists. Landry had 15 points and 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
Jack is averaging 15.5 points on 52 percent shooting in December. Landry is averaging 13.5 points and 6.4 rebounds in his last seven games.
“They have been consistent and they have set the tone for us,” said Jackson on the two offseason acquisitions. “Anytime you call on those guys, they are ready and prepared. They have an edge, toughness and they bring professionalism. Give credit to our ownership and our front office people that a made a commitment and found those guys that made us better. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry were absolute steals via trade and free agency.”
Six Warriors scored in double figures.
Jrue Holiday led Philadelphia with 21 points and 10 assists. Thaddeus Young had 19 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. Nick Young had 13 points, all in the second half. Evan Turner had 10 points and four steals. Five 76ers scored in double figures.
With the victory, Golden State improved to 20-10 on the season. It marks the first time since 1980 that the Warriors have won 20 games before New Year’s Day.
This game should never have been in doubt. Golden State ended the first half on a 19-6 run to lead by 15 at the half.
After a rare 3-point play by Andris Biedrins extended the Warriors lead to 72-52 with 4:59 in the third quarter, the 76ers went on a 17-3 run over the next 3:24 to quickly cut the lead to six. The Youngs led the Philadelphia charge with a combined 11 points and three assists.
While the Youngs were heating up, the Warriors shot just 1 of 6 and committed two turnovers.
After leading by double digits for most of the third quarter, the Warriors led by just nine heading into the fourth quarter.
Golden State started the final quarter by managing just four points on 2 of 8 shooting. Philadelphia took advantage and cut the deficit to 84-80 with 6:20 left.
The Warriors needed someone to step up and rescue them from another heart-wrenching loss and that person was Lee.
Lee scored six straight points to push the lead back to double digits. In doing so, Lee displayed his entire arsenal.
First, it was a left-handed turnaround hook shot over Young. Then guarded by a premier defender in Kwame Brown, Lee drove in from just inside the 3-point line and banked it in at the rim with his right hand. After two Philadelphia turnovers, Lee finished off the 76ers by hitting his patented jumper from 18 feet.
Although the Warriors came out with a victory, Lee and Stephen Curry know the team needs to work on not turning the ball (18 turnovers), especially at critical junctures of the game.
“We were up 20 in the second half,” said Curry, who finished with 11 points, six assists and five rebounds. “You want to be able to not let them get it down to five again. We turned the ball over too many times which led to easy walk-up layups.”
Philadelphia came up with a season-high 14 steals. It was also a season high for a Warriors’ opponent.
“We had way too many turnovers tonight and not enough assists,” said Lee. “Give them credit, they’re a pesky team defensively but that’s not the way we want to play offensively and we’ll have to make some adjustments against a tough Boston team here tomorrow night.”
Despite leading Western Conference frontcourt players in assists (3.6) and second in scoring (20.1) and rebounding (11.2), Lee was not among the top 15 frontcourt players in the All-Star Game voting when the second returns were released on Thursday.
“I’ve said it before,” said Jackson. “I’ve got two guys that should be in the All-Star Game. They will never pump themselves up with the way they lead this basketball team, the way they compete and the way they battle. All year long he’s been making plays in the fourth quarter and tonight – eight big points.”
Dorell Wright returned to Oracle Arena for the first time since he was traded to the 76ers and finished with eight points, five rebounds and a season-high three blocks.
Wright also had his shoe thrown into the crowd after he lost it on a fastbreak attempt during the second quarter, courtesy of Jack.
The Warriors snapped a three-game losing streak to the 76ers.
NOTES: Golden State improved to 4-5 in the first game of a back-to-back. Lee has 13 20-point, 10-rebound games this season, which leads the NBA. Curry (7th) and Holiday (17th) were drafted in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft. Curry is one of only three players averaging 20 points, six assists and three rebounds this season (LeBron James and Russell Westbrook). The Warriors are 12-2 against the Eastern Conference. Oracle Arena was sold out for the fifth time this season.
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