Mark Jackson looked around Barclays Center and saw friends, family and familiar faces from a lifetime of New York basketball.
What he saw on the court was pretty special, too.
David Lee had 30 points and 15 rebounds, Stephen Curry scored 28 points, and the Golden State Warriors gave their coach a winning return to Brooklyn by beating the Nets 109-102 on Friday night.
”Good to be home,” Jackson said, ”and it’s even better to leave out of here with a victory.”
Lee scored six straight points to break open a tie game midway through the fourth quarter, and Curry had 21 in the second half for the Warriors, who won for the fifth time in six games.
Golden State improved to 2-0 on its season-high, seven-game road trip against Eastern Conference opponents, a game played not far from where Jackson became a New York City star.
Jackson’s mother and sister were in the crowd, and he said he even recognized people working in the arena who worked at Madison Square Garden when he played there.
”He talked about it as being a dream of his and we just wanted to come out with effort to make that happen for him,” Curry said. ”You could see he had so much passion after the game. You could tell how much this meant to him.”
Joe Johnson scored a season-high 32 points for the Nets, who dropped their season-high third straight. Deron Williams added 23 points and eight assists.
”We’ve had similar games like this all season where we get out to a lead and really can’t hang on to it. We really got outworked especially in the second half,” Williams said. ”Stephen Curry got hot in the offensive end and defensively we just didn’t play good tonight. We had too many breakdowns in our defense, too many system errors.”
Brooklyn played without starting center Brook Lopez for a fourth straight game because of a sprained right foot. Andray Blatche had 22 points and 15 rebounds in his place.
Curry’s streak of 20-point, 10-assist games ended at four, the longest by a Warriors player since Tim Hardaway 20 years ago, when he had only five assists.
But he was locked in scoring mode in the second half of his sixth straight game with 20 or more points, hitting long jumpers, showing a shooter’s body language in believing that every time he pulled up, it was going in.
”He’s a bad man,” Jackson said. ”He’s a bad man. At the end of the day, he’s healthy, and I’ll take him matching up against any point guard in this league. And that’s with total respect for Deron Williams and some other guys in this league, but Steph Curry is in that class and he shoots the ball as well as anybody that’s ever played, and for the first time in a long time he’s healthy, and I think people forgot just how good he is.”
Curry tied it at 89 with a 3-pointer, then Lee knocked down two jumpers and put back a miss as the Warriors opened a 95-89 lead with 6:39 to play. The Nets got it down to four about three minutes later, but Lee converted a three-point play before Draymond Green’s follow shot extended Golden State’s lead to 105-96.
”Our problem is defense. We are not the same team defensively. We have to get back and figure it out,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. ”We have to get our team out of this defensive funk.”
Jackson was born in Brooklyn, played high school ball at nearby Bishop Loughlin, starred at St. John’s and began his NBA career with the Knicks, winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1988. The trip back to Brooklyn hit home, he said, when the team bus passed a McDonald’s where he used to eat after high school home games.
Jackson said he spent Thursday with his son and visited with his mother and sister earlier Friday. He said his reaction upon seeing the $1 billion Barclays Center was simply, ”Wow!”
”You couldn’t imagine this being here as a kid growing up, or as a high school kid, just couldn’t imagine it,” he said before the game. ”So it’s a big deal and rightfully so.”
He said he had about 10 friends and family members at the game, and got a nice hand after the introduction of the Warriors’ starting lineup.
Lee spent five years with the Knicks and reserve Charles Jenkins played at Hofstra, so plenty of Warriors were comfortable in New York.
”It’s great for a bunch of us to be back here and we take a lot of pride in going on the road and finding a way to get wins,” Lee said, ”and we were very, very happy we did that.”
The Nets led by seven after one, then got 3-pointers by Jerry Stackhouse and Johnson to open the second, increasing their lead to 37-24. The Warriors battled back to tie it at 55, but the Nets scored the final eight points of the half, taking a 63-55 lead on Blatche’s 3 with 0.5 seconds remaining.
Curry brought the Warriors back in the third, making three 3-pointers and scoring 13 of Golden State’s 29 points. Jarrett Jack’s jumper with 1.1 seconds left sent the Warriors to the fourth with an 84-82 lead.
Jack had 15 points and eight assists, Klay Thompson scored 13 points, and Green finished with 10 rebounds.
Notes: Avery Johnson said Lopez did some shooting and light running and the Nets would see what he could do at practice Saturday before re-evaluating him Sunday. … The seven-game trip is only ninth for the Warriors franchise since moving West. They haven’t had a winning record since going 4-3 in 1970-71. … Avery Johnson said Blatche is a good passer – most of the time. ”Sometimes he goes into his Globetrotter deal, which doesn’t yield great results,” Johnson said.