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Sports

Warriors stay undefeated at home

May 12th, 2007 1:36 am by GREG BEACHAM



OAKLAND, Calif. - From the first 3-pointer to the last dramatic dunk, Baron Davis and his Warriors remained golden at home in the playoffs.


Davis had 32 points and nine assists, Jason Richardson scored 25 points and Golden State stayed unbeaten in Oakland during the postseason with a 125-105 victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 3 of their second-round series Friday night, cutting Utah's lead to 2-1.


Richardson hit four of the Warriors' NBA record-tying 11 3-pointers in the first half, and Al Harrington added 15 points as Golden State shrugged off two tough losses in Utah with yet another confident, free-flowing performance. The Warriors finished with 15 3-pointers while forcing 25 Utah turnovers.


And Davis' brilliance finally ended a comfortable victory in the rocking arena where the Warriors beat top-seeded Dallas three times in the first round to the same 110-decibel soundtrack.


"He was pretty sensational, wasn't he?" Warriors coach Don Nelson asked. "I've seen it a time or two here or there ... but the plays he made, the dominance he created on both ends of the floor - just tons of stuff you wish everybody would be able to do, but not many can."


Game 4 in the best-of-seven series is Sunday night in Oakland, with Game 5 back in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.


After Utah cut Golden State's 30-point lead in half during the fourth quarter, Davis closed the door, punctuating yet another memorable spring night with a vicious one-handed dunk into the mug of shot-blocking specialist Andrei Kirilenko with 2:48 left.


"It was like he put his whole body in the rim," Richardson marveled.


Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who landed gracelessly in California after riding high from Wednesday's emotional overtime victory in Game 2. Deron Williams added 14 points and six assists, but Golden State stretched its 21-point halftime lead to 30 midway through the third quarter before the Jazz finally responded.


"You get into a groove, and they certainly were in one," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We couldn't shoot the ball quick enough, which is certainly to our disadvantage. They were playing us strong and knowing where the ball was going to go."


The eighth-seeded Warriors have lost four of their five road playoff games, but they're 4-0 at home in the arena where they went 30-11 in the regular season. Their 125 points were a playoff best, as was their 15-of-32 shooting on 3-pointers.


Their playoff-starved fans - replete in another collection of gold T-shirts that turned Oracle Arena into a big bowl of bubbling custard - rarely were quiet during Golden State's first home second-round playoff game since May 12, 1991.


Davis produced a personal highlight reel in the second half after Golden State faltered, mixing spinning passes and jumpers with the dunk that will live for decades in NBA highlight reels. Davis even got a technical foul after throwing it down, apparently for excessive celebration - but the screaming arena backed him up.


While Golden State's effort improved markedly from the opening tip, Utah regressed. The Jazz committed 16 turnovers before halftime while forcing just five by the Warriors, who got whatever shot they desired during most of their 70-point first half.


Derek Fisher, whose daughter's serious health problems forced his absence from the series until his dramatic return during Game 2, started for Utah but had nine points and no assists before fouling out.


After the highs of knocking off Dallas, Golden State struggled through the series' first two games in Utah. The Warriors twice fell behind by big margins, only to rally in the fourth quarter - and then squander that work with mistakes, including three missed free throws and a turnover in the final 30 seconds of regulation in their Game 2 overtime loss.


That energy was obvious early in Game 3 as the Warriors made eight of their first 12 shots, streaking to a 22-9 lead on Davis' 3-pointer. The Jazz gradually quieted the crowd with an 18-4 run.


Williams, Utah's Game 2 hero, and Fisher both picked up three fouls in the first half, limiting Utah's defensive options against Davis. Golden State gradually built a healthy lead in the second quarter with its outside shot, eventually tying the league record for 3-pointers in a playoff half held by four other teams.


NOTES: Utah G Dee Brown sat out after spraining his neck when Mehmet Okur fell on his head in Game 2. Brown could return Sunday. ... The Warriors hadn't won four home games in the same postseason since 1977.


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