A sellout crowd of 19,763 at Madison Square Garden was ready to turn on its own New York Knicks team from the opening whistle Tuesday night, having been primed by the childish antics of coach Isiah Thomas and point guard Stephon Marbury while the team dropped six games in a row.
With a season-high 17 steals leading to a 108-82 walkover victory, the resurgent Warriors pushed the mob over the edge. By the time Golden State's third consecutive win was complete, with Baron Davis scoring 31 points and Stephen Jackson pumping home 23, the crowd was alternately baying for Thomas' head -- "Fire Is-iah!" was the chant -- or lustily booing the entire enterprise.
"Obviously, after awhile, the better we started to play, we started stealing the fans, so this turned into a little bit of a home game for us," said Warriors forward Al Harrington, who grew up just across the Hudson River. "It was a great win for us."
The Warriors (3-6) earned it by carrying away practically everything else that wasn't nailed down. Facing a Knicks team that featured a pair of wide loads in the paint -- 285-pound center Eddy Curry and 260-pound power forward Zach Randolph -- the Warriors found themselves overmatched in the early going. Starting center Andris Biedrins was pulled after Curry scored eight points in the
After that, Golden State started to attack every time one of the Knicks' big men put the ball on the floor. And New York, which turned the ball over 27 times, never figured out what to do in response.
"I thought our game plan was solid and then guys carried it out," coach Don Nelson said. "We were really aggressive on our double teams. The number of steals we got was amazing, really. We were just really good and active defensively."
The Warriors will go for their first three-game road winning streak since April 2005 tonight in Boston against the 8-1 Celtics, but they'll have to do it without Harrington, who will miss the game due to personal reasons. He said he expects to rejoin the team in time for its game Friday in Washington, D.C.
Harrington missed Tuesday morning's shootaround and only played 11 minutes against the Knicks, but Mickael Pietrus was more than ready to pick up the slack. In 30 minutes, he scored 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting. He added six rebounds and four steals.
Pietrus also drew three offensive fouls on various Knicks, and his high-energy fronting defense on Randolph helped bother him into a career-high-tying seven turnovers. After getting Randolph caught throwing an elbow, Pietrus celebrated as though he'd knocked down one of his patented corner 3-pointers.
"You have to celebrate, because I'm a (perimeter player). I'm not used to playing (power forward)," Pietrus said. "We played for 48 minutes, and everybody, by the fact we have a strong defense are feeling better on offense and are getting their confidence back. That's what we need from the whole team."
The Warriors were masters at stripping the Knicks on their way up to shoot, often sneaking up from the back side on an unsuspecting Curry or Randolph.
"Our timing on double teams was good," said Jackson, who finished with seven assists, six rebounds and three steals. "When they went to a dribble and then they spun, we were right there to get our hands on the ball. As soon they got into their moves, we trapped them."
When the ball didn't go to a big man, the Warriors simply reared back and ripped the ball loose from the likes of Quentin Richardson or Mardy Collins.
Davis, who also had seven assists and six rebounds, scored nine points in the second quarter to help the Warriors open a 60-47 advantage at the half. The Knicks never got closer than nine points in the third period and then in the fourth, Jackson took over, scoring 13 points and assisting on seven others to set the crowd loose on Thomas.
"I know the spot that (Thomas) is in right now. And I have to feel for him, because I was in that spot a few days ago when we had lost six in a row," Nelson said.
That was a week ago, although in the afterglow of a third win, it seemed like longer than that.
"Obviously, we're still missing Matt (Barnes), but once we got Jack back, MP, everybody playing at a high level, we're tough to beat," Harrington said. "Now we've become a very good team again."
Contact Geoff Lepper at email@example.com.
WARRIORS 108, KNICKS 82