OAKLAND -- The Warriors found themselves in another uneasy position against the New Orleans Hornets. They led by just four points entering the fourth quarter, evoking fears of another letdown.
But like the superior team, Golden State stepped on the gas pedal late and put the Hornets in their place, 98-88 at Oracle Arena on Wednesday night.
The Warriors turned a potential scare into a comfortable win, inching ever-so-closer to securing a playoff berth.
Golden State (43-32) held the Hornets to 39.8 percent shooting and outrebounded them 47-39.
After a slow start -- missing 15 of their first 22 shots -- the Warriors produced more than enough offense, finishing at 46.2 percent shooting.
"It took us a little while to get going," Jarrett Jack said after totaling 19 points and eight assists in 36 minutes off the bench. "Sometimes, you've got to create your own energy.
"I think everyone is feeling a sense of urgency right now.""The Warriors finished a five-game homestand 4-1, the only hiccup being the loss to Sacramento.
Wednesday's victory kept Golden State a half a game ahead of Houston, which also won Wednesday, for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.
The magic number for the Warriors is now 3. That means Golden State would clinch a playoff spot with a win at Phoenix on Friday and over Utah (which lost Wednesday) on Sunday.
"I'm just excited," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "Every time we win a game, I've got a group of guys who this is their first time winning this many games. And they deserve it. It's a fun time for us."
The Warriors secured the win over the Hornets by ramping up the defense in the fourth quarter. They held New Orleans without a basket for more than four minutes to take control of the game.
While the Hornets missed six straight shots, baskets by Jack, David Lee and backup Carl Landry pushed Golden State's advantage to 83-72 with just under eight minutes to play.
A hook shot by Andrew Bogut pushed the lead to 12 points with three minutes left. Golden State then put the Hornets to bed with a Jack pull-up jumper and a fast-break layup by Stephen Curry, making it 98-82 inside of two minutes.
New Orleans managed just 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting in the fourth quarter.
"I thought we challenged shots well," said Lee, who had 23 points and 16 rebounds for his league-leading 50th double-double of the season. "We defensive rebounded the ball pretty well, and we were flying around. As long as we bring that energy and cover for one another, we can be a pretty good defensive team."
"The worse it looks, the better it is for the team," Lee said.
From the looks of it, though, Andris Biedrins isn't on board. He looked cleanly shaven Wednesday. And the patch on rookie Harrison Barnes' chin looked well groomed.
Jackson is even in on it. His shadow was turning into some rough real estate at practice, highlighted by some gray strands. But he had his facial mane neatened.
There was talk about extended the beard pact through the playoffs. But Curry wasn't a fan of that idea.
"This thing," he said at Wednesday's shootaround, scratching his grizzled neck. "I've already got lint all in it."
What gives? Even with that explosion, Golden State ranks 26th with 38 points in the paint per game entering Wednesday against the Hornets.
"Our guys are doing a good job of taking advantage of the opportunities that are there," Jackson said. "We're making plays. When we're at our best, we're pushing the ball."
Jackson said the Warriors' transition game is part of the reason. In the same two games, they had 43 fast-break points.
Warriors (43-32) at Phoenix (23-52), 7 p.m., CSNBA