OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Atlanta Hawks lost their big lead, then their composure and finally a game that could haunt them in their quest to win the NBA’s Southeast Division.
Stephen Curry scored 32 points and made the go-ahead free throw in the final minute after a technical foul on Jamal Crawford to help the Golden State Warriors rally from an 18-point deficit and beat the Atlanta Hawks 108-104 on Sunday night.
“We just fell apart,” point guard Mike Bibby said. “We’re up 20 points. A team of our caliber shouldn’t lose that game. It happened but we can’t let it happen too much.”
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The loss to the last-place Warriors was the third in the last four games for the Hawks, who fell 2 1/2 games behind Orlando in the division race. This game appeared safely in the win column when Atlanta pulled away in the third quarter to take an 18-point lead.
Playing with only eight healthy players, the Warriors scored 16 straight points in the fourth quarter to erase the big deficit and went on to win their first game against a team with a winning record since beating Boston on Dec. 28.
Golden State had lost 11 of 13, with the only wins being blowouts at home against struggling Sacramento and the Los Angeles Clippers. The win was the 1,325th of coach Don Nelson’s career, seven shy of tying Lenny Wilkens’ career record.
“A win is a win to us,” guard C.J. Watson said. “We just get them however they come, whether it’s a sorry team or a playoff team like that. It doesn’t matter. We’re just trying to get as many wins as possible and get coach his record.”
After losing their big lead, the Hawks lost their cool in the final minute. Leading by two points, Joe Johnson turned the ball over and Monta Ellis went in for a breakaway layup that tied the game at 104 with 1 minute left.
After Al Horford missed a jumper, C.J. Watson lost the rebound out of bounds for Golden State. But Crawford was called for a technical, giving Golden State the lead on Curry’s free throw.
“The tech didn’t help us with Jamal,” coach Mike Woodson said. “I thought he got fouled. He got hit and bumped almost out of bounds, and he didn’t get the call. Sometimes that happens. He kind of lost his composure.”
Crawford then missed a 3-pointer from the corner with 15 seconds remaining and Ellis hit two free throws to make it 107-104. Josh Smith missed another 3 with 5 seconds to go and Chris Hunter made one of two free throws for the final margin.
“It was one of those games where we pulled all of the right strings, made shots and the force was with us,” Nelson said. “We were a little lucky too but we’ll take it.”
Johnson led Atlanta with 31 points, Horford added 26 and Smith had 14 points and 17 rebounds. The Hawks have lost three of four.
Ellis finished with 26 points for Golden State, but was on the bench for the bulk of the Warriors comeback early in the fourth quarter.
Golden State cut the 18-point lead down to five on two free throws by Curry midway through the period. Curry followed with a 3-pointer and Watson’s layup tied the game at 95. Curry capped the 16-0 run with a driving layup to give the Warriors a two-point lead with just over 5 minutes remaining.
“In the fourth quarter, you saw the defensive tenacity and that got us in transition a lot,” Curry said. “That’s when we’re at our best.”
Ellis gave the Warriors a 102-101 lead when he made one of two free throws, but Johnson answered with a 28-footer as the shot clock ran down to make it 104-102 with 2:22 to go. Atlanta did not score again, missing its final seven shots.
The loss was especially tough on Crawford, who had his differences with Nelson last season before being dealt to Atlanta. Crawford scored 17 points, topping the 10,000-point mark in his career, but didn’t come through down the stretch.
The game was tight for the first half with neither team taking a lead bigger than five points. Atlanta led 52-51 at halftime before breaking the game open in the third quarter.
Horford scored nine points during a 14-2 run that helped Atlanta take a 74-59 lead just past the midpoint of the quarter. Smith added back-to-back dunks, including an emphatic left-hander on a breakaway following a bad pass by Ellis that made it 86-68 late in the third.
NOTES: Warriors F Corey Maggette missed the game with a strained left hamstring. He went to Los Angeles to have the injury examined. … Golden State F Ronny Turiaf missed the game with flulike symptoms. … Ellis topped the 5,000 career point mark as well. … Bibby was 1-for-6 from the field and is 3-for-18 over his last three games.