REUTERS - The Golden State Warriors staved off a late fourth-quarter challenge to beat New Orleans Hornets 103-96 for a successful home return on Tuesday.
David Lee had 26 points and nine rebounds while Klay Thompson added 19 points as the Warriors triumphed in their first game at Oracle Arena since a recent seven-game road trip that saw them finish 6-1.
Despite the Golden State controlling the Hornets for most of the night, New Orleans made a furious run in the fourth to tie the game 92-92 with about four minutes remaining.
Jarrett Jack responded with six free throws during a game-deciding 9-2 stretch to help Golden State (17-8) continue their sparkling start to the season.
“We had a lot of confidence tonight, a lot more confidence than in the past,” Lee told reporters after The Warriors were off to their best start since the 1991-1992 season when they started 21-8.
“It’s no fun when a team’s catching up on you like that, but I think we had confidence we could make plays down the stretch.”
One of the younger teams in the league, few expected the Warriors to open the campaign this successfully and they are now just 1 1/2 games behind the Pacific Division lead.
The Hornets (5-19) have lost eight straight, despite getting 28 points off the bench from Ryan Anderson in their latest defeat.
Also a youthful group, New Orleans have endured a tough start and have now dropped 18 of their last 20 games.
Number one overall draft pick Anthony Davis recorded 15 points and 16 rebounds in his fifth game back since missing extensive time with a ankle injury. Greivis Vasquez added 20 and 11 assists.
Golden State grabbed a 10-point lead after the first quarter and were up 90-78 midway through the fourth before the visitors fought back by outscoring the Warriors 14-2 over a three-minute stint.
“It’s just a tough loss for us, especially when you tie it up, you have a chance to win,” said Hornets coach Monty Williams. “We just haven’t found that closing mentality.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty