OAKLAND -- Sometimes they seem to come easily, and other times they have to fight to the death. Sometimes, they're things of beauty. Sometimes they're Gollum-ugly.
Either way, the Warriors seem to keep stockpiling wins.
Golden State's 96-89 victory over Philadelphia was a blowout-turned-thriller Friday night at Oracle Arena. Golden State almost blew a 20-point lead before managing to finish off the 76ers.
"Our job is to continue to chalk them up in the win column," coach Mark Jackson said. "Mission accomplished."
For the ninth time in the West Coast era of the franchise, the Warriors have reached the 20-win plateau before New Year's Day. It's only the third time that's happened since the 1975-76 season. The last time it happened was the 1980-81 season when Golden State started 21-18.
The Warriors (20-10) are now 10 games over .500 with the Boston Celtics coming to town Saturday.
Golden State didn't bring its "A" game Friday. The Warriors shot just 42.5 percent and turned it over 18 times.
And they still are having problems putting away teams. The Warriors led 72-52 with 4:59 left in the third after center Andris Biedrins converted a three-point play. (Yes, you read that right, he made the free throw.) But the Warriors still ended up having to survive.
But the disappointment over those missteps was again dulled by victory.
"We were up 20 in the second half," said point guard Stephen Curry, who had his
Forward David Lee was a big reason the Warriors didn't pay dearly. He scored eight of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to bail out the Warriors and thwart the hard-charging 76ers. He came up with big baskets when Golden State couldn't punt it into the Pacific Ocean.
"It was a little bit of a tough game for me just because they threw different sizes at me and different kinds of defenders," said Lee, who also had 12 rebounds for his league-leading 13th game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. "But I just tried to keep being aggressive."
The Warriors snatched control of the game with a 16-4 run to close the first half. Golden State held Philadelphia to 2-of-9 shooting to finish the second quarter.
Lee got the run started with two baskets, the latter a 3-point play. After a Klay Thompson 3-pointer, forward Carl Landry (15 points, 11 rebounds) went to work inside, getting five points of three straight trips to the line.
Thompson sent the Warriors into the locker room up 57-42 with a second 3-pointer.
The Warriors had a 20-point lead midway through the third quarter, but back-to-back dunks by Thaddeus Young -- one a ridiculous one-hand tomahawk -- and a Nick Young 3-pointer changed the tide of the game. Philadelphia went on a run that would nearly erase Golden State's lead.
Holiday, who had 21 points and 10 assists, punctuated the run with a driving lefty dunk with 2 seconds left, cutting the Warriors' lead to 80-71 after three quarters.
A Curry jumper gave the Warriors an 82-73 lead early in the fourth, but Golden State missed its next five shots and turned it over twice. Consecutive baskets by 76ers center Lavoy Allen cut the Warriors' lead to 82-77 with 8:10 left, prompting Jackson to take a rare timeout.
Golden State's lead was down to 84-80 with just over six minutes left. That's when Lee came through to save the Warriors' struggling offense.
He converted a turnaround jumper on Allen out of the post. The next time down, after a Warriors' stop, Lee dropped in a hook over 76ers center Kwame Brown.
One more Warriors stop led to a driving bank shot from Lee, putting Golden State up 90-80 inside of four minutes.
"We ran our offense through him," Jackson said of Lee. "We posted him up, we isolated him and he made plays. ... David Lee was the best player on the floor."
Philadelphia missed its next two shots, and Jarrett Jack gave the Warriors all the cushion they would need when he drove and set up Landry for a dunk, putting the Warriors up 12.
In the end, Golden State controlled the boards (52-43), held Philadelphia to 40.2 percent shooting and made just enough shots.
Sometimes, they're nerve-racking, but the Warriors just keep winning.
Tolbert, who played for the Warriors from 1989-92 as part of a seven-year NBA career, hosts his own show on KNBR on weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. He will join longtime radio broadcaster Tim Roye -- in his 18th season doing Warriors' play-by-play -- beginning with the Jan. 2 home game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Another former Warrior, Dorell Wright, started in Richardson's place and scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting. The Warriors traded Wright in the offseason, a three-way deal that sent Jack from New Orleans to Golden State.
Richardson is averaging 11.5 points in 29.9 minutes as the starting wing.
Wright entered the game averaging 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 22.5 minutes off the bench.
He got no love from Jack in the second quarter. Wright lost his shoe on a fast break. Jack picked it up and threw it into the crowd.
Boston (14-14) at Warriors (20-10), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA