Road Weary Warriors Pull Out Home Win

Marco Belinelli, C.J. Watson and the Golden State Warriors returned home just long enough to pick up a change of clothes, a victory over Toronto and two new nicknames.

Stephen Jackson scored 30 points, Belinelli added 23 and the Warriors held off the road-weary Raptors on Monday night. Their 117-111 victory wasn't safe until the whisper-thin Watson floated into the lane and hit a clutch jumper over Chris Bosh, the 6-foot-10 All-Star, in the final minute.

The last few weeks have been a grind on the Warriors, who haven't played two straight games in the same city since Dec. 10-12. Building continuity in a young team would be hard enough even without the travel, the long-term injuries to stars Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette, and coach Don Nelson's wholesale changes to the offense three weeks ago.

But Golden State has rarely stopped working hard for Nelson, and new contributors are emerging each week. With Watson's decisive shot and his two big baskets last week against Boston, the unsung guard was feeling confident enough to name himself.

"Crunch Time C, put that in the paper," he said with a grin.

And then there's Belinelli, who hit five 3-pointers in yet another strong game as a starter since Nelson removed his training wheels this month. Belinelli also had a career high-tying six assists and solid defense, inciting the sellout Oakland crowd to chant "Rocky! Rocky!" in homage to the Italian second-year pro's resemblance to Sylvester Stallone.

"I knew I could help this team," Belinelli said. "We've had a lot of games (on the road), but now we're getting to the end, and we'll see what we can do."

Watson's shot with 52 seconds left sealed Golden State's fifth straight home win over Toronto. He scored 15 points for the Warriors, who barely had time to breathe between their stunning victory over the Celtics last Friday night and a blowout loss to the Lakers on Sunday.

Kelenna Azubuike added 18 points for the Warriors, who won for just the third time in 11 games. Golden State had just enough fourth-quarter offense to stop the Raptors, who finished a tough six-game holiday road trip with four losses.

Bosh had 30 points and 14 rebounds for Toronto, hitting a 3-pointer with 3:29 left to pull the Raptors within two points. Jose Calderon added 21 points and 16 assists, but the Raptors missed several open 3-pointers in the final minutes, perhaps finally running out of energy after 12 days on the road.

"We're getting closer, but we've got to start winning, too," Calderon said. "We can't be getting closer every day and losing. It's good. We're going to keep working together for sure, but we've got to start winning games."

Toronto's Jermaine O'Neal played just nine minutes in the first half and made at least one mid-game trip to the locker room before skipping the second half with flu-like symptoms. The Raptors, who have lost 12 of 16 overall, made some poor passes in the final minutes, and Jason Kapono missed at least three open 3-pointers.

Toronto coach Jay Triano is eager to get back to Ontario.

"Not so much for our technical or tactical stuff, I want our guys to get some reps shooting," he said. "You can shoot at shootaround or the day of an off-day between games, but it's not the same. We need to get in and just get volume shots up. We have good shooters. We've just got to start making them."

Golden State's frenetic travel schedule extends into the new year with a road game Wednesday night in Oklahoma City to start another three-game trip. The Warriors won't play two straight home games again until Jan. 11 and 14.

"We got away from playing with the energy we did against Boston when we went to L.A.," said Jackson, who had his fourth 30-point game of the season. "I think in order for us to get a good feeling about ourselves and get our identity, we have to start winning on the road. Hopefully we can build on this on the road.

Jamal Crawford struggled again at home for his new team, scoring 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting in 36 minutes. The Warriors' free-flowing offense often plays to Crawford's worst instincts, with the guard jacking up poor shots early in the shot clock.

The Warriors are hopeful Maggette might return from his strained hamstring during the trip, but the new forward missed his 13th straight game against the Raptors.  Notes:@ Toronto beat the Warriors 112-108 in overtime on Oct. 31, getting 31 points from Bosh. ... The Warriors had just their third sellout crowd of the season. ... Jackson and Ronny Turiaf both got technical fouls in the second half. Turiaf got hit with a quick whistle for nothing more than clapping his hands and screaming in excitement after a dunk.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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