10:30 PM ET, March 20, 2009
ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA
OAKLAND, Calif. -- When the lights went out in the third quarter, some other switch flipped on for the confounding Golden State Warriors.
Brandan Wright scored a career-high 25 points, Monta Ellis added 21 and the Warriors got rolling right after a power failure that wasn't even the weirdest part of their 119-111 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.
Stephen Jackson had 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Warriors, who overcame everything from Jamal Crawford's continued non-injury absence to that partial blackout in the third quarter and won for the fourth time in six games.
Although not much seems normal in Oakland these days, perhaps Wright, Jackson and their teammates are learning to thrive in the uncertainty and oddness of coach Don Nelson's club.
"Our guys were just waking up, so when the lights came on, we came on," said Warriors assistant coach Keith Smart, who curiously assumed most of Nelson's duties for a game while the second-winningest coach in NBA history sat placidly on the bench.
Most of the lights abruptly went out at Oracle Arena with 8:24 left in the third quarter, and only some came back on moments later. After a delay of nearly three minutes, the officials and both clubs agreed to keep playing -- and Golden State scored the next 10 points while making a 21-8 run, blowing open a close game.
"That was a good look. We need to try that some time," said Jackson, who thought the dimness was similar to the conditions in Madison Square Garden. "We got to running and playing fast, making the extra pass and knocking down shots. They made a run, but they couldn't get all the way back."
Thaddeus Young scored 23 points and Louis Williams added 20 for the 76ers, who trimmed an 18-point deficit to six in the final 2 minutes before Ellis hit back-to-back shots to finish them.
In their third stop on a five-game road trip, the Sixers lost their second straight following a four-game win streak. Samuel Dalembert had 15 points and a career-high 23 rebounds for the Sixers, who have lost four straight in Oakland.
"This is a game we thought we could get," said Andre Miller, who had just 10 points and four assists. "We got off to a good start but we couldn't maintain the second and third quarter. ... It's tough to see when you're shooting [in the dark], but I think when they did go on their run, it was all layups. So they got layups in the dark, and we missed shots in the dark."
Andre Iguodala couldn't shoot with the lights on or off, going 5-of-17 for 19 points. Sixers coach Tony DiLeo agreed to keep playing in the semi-dark, but was left wishing he hadn't.
"We couldn't make a shot right after that," DiLeo said. "It was something where I don't know if it was the lighting or our shooting, but both teams were under the same conditions. So it wasn't an advantage either way, I don't think. ... The effort was there. We played hard and we tried to do some good things, but basically we shoot 38 percent in a tight game and lose it."
Golden State won without Crawford, the veteran guard averaging 19 points per game. He missed his third straight game while healthy -- although this time, it was his decision.
Nelson benched Crawford for both of the Warriors' games earlier this week as part of his plan to give more playing time to his youngsters at the expense of a veteran who Nelson doesn't want back next season. Nelson wanted Crawford to play against Philadelphia, but Crawford asked for a little practice time before jumping back into action.
Nelson turned over his duties for a day to Smart, the former Cleveland coach who gave directions from the sideline and ran the timeout huddles while Nelson sat nearby. Nelson, who won his 1,300th career game last month, already turned over the responsibility of teaching defense to the NBA's worst defensive club to Smart.
"I run practices from time to time, so the players know my voice and know when I need something done," Smart said. "It's not a big transition for me, because I've done it for a couple of years now."
Whatever Smart or Nelson did, something worked in the second half. Wright and Kelenna Azubuike scored 11 points apiece in the third quarter on combined 10-of-12 shooting both before and after the lights went out, and Golden State comfortably maintained the lead in the fourth with an effective fast break and solid jump shooting. Azubuike finished with 15 points, and Anthony Morrow added 16.
The Warriors thrived without injured center Andris Biedrins and promising rookie forward Anthony Randolph, who strained his groin in Golden State's loss to the Lakers on Wednesday. The biggest beneficiary of Randolph's absence was Wright, who only returned to action last week after missing 27 games since early January with a shoulder injury.
Biedrins missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle. Reserve F Jermareo Davidson also sat out with an injury, although he dressed for the game. ... The arena lights were mostly back on by late in the third quarter. ... Philadelphia's West Coast trip still includes stops in Sacramento and Portland.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||38-100 (.380)||48-85 (.565)|
|3PM-3PA||4-16 (.250)||9-19 (.474)|
|FTM-FTA||31-40 (.775)||14-17 (.824)|
|Fast Break Points||30||30|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (0/0)||31 (0/0)|