OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors were back home Monday night. It's unlikely many of them unpacked their bags.
The NBA's most-traveled team, back in the Bay Area the night after facing the Lakers in Los Angeles, held off the Toronto Raptors 117-111 at Oracle Arena. Then it was back on the road.
"It's terrible. I feel it right now," Ronny Turiaf said of the hectic travel. "I just got home last night at 12:30, 1 o'clock and I have to leave again."
By the time the Warriors visit Oklahoma City on New Year's Eve, Minnesota on Friday, then Utah next Monday, they will have played 23 of their first 36 games on the road. They are 4-16 away from home so far.
But they improved to 6-7 at home as Stephen
Belinelli had 23 points and equaled his career best with six assists, prompting the crowd to chant, "Rocky, Rocky" as a tribute to his resemblance to the movie hero.
Guard C.J. Watson, who made two big shots late in the win over Boston, hit a pull-up jumper over Chris Bosh to give the Warriors some breathing room with 52 seconds left after the Raptors got within two points.
"Crunch-Time C — put that in the paper," Watson said, giving himself a nickname.
Coach Don Nelson, who changed the offense to stress more ball movement after a 123-88 loss at San Antonio on Dec. 6, was excited by 26
"Win or lose, when we move the ball like we did, Coach is happy," he said. "When we're scrapping, I'll take whichever the outcome is."
Jackson said the Warriors haven't given up hope of making a run at the playoffs.
"We're starting to get some momentum," he said. "If we can defend our home, we can start getting back into the race because I don't think too many teams are really breaking away besides L.A.
"I think we've still got a chance and we're going to continue to think that way."
After this next road trip, Golden State plays eight of nine games at home.
The new offensive approach certainly has benefited Belinelli, the second-year guard from Italy. He's averaging 16 points over the past 13 games, and is a good fit for the pass-oriented system.
"He's been playing great, hitting his shots, making plays, making great passes, just playing fast," Watson said. "I think it helps everybody."
"He's just fitting in with our new style so well," added Nelson.
Belinelli seemed almost giddy afterward, talking about the response he got from the home crowd.
"That's incredible, when they made like, 'Rocky, Rocky.' I know these are the best fans in the world," Belinelli said. "For us, it's very important to play with these fans at our home."
Bosh scored 30 for the Raptors, including a 3-pointer with 3:27 that got them within 106-104.
Toronto had two shots at tying the score before a put-back by Andris Biedrins — who had 13 points and 15 rebounds — pushed the Golden State lead to four points with 2:05 left. A jumper by the Raptors' Jason Kapono made it a two-point game once more.
Watson then dropped in his 18-footer, allowing the Oracle crowd to exhale.
"Last two games, I think C.J. hit the biggest shots in the fourth quarter," Jackson said.
The play called allowed Watson to either pull up or pass to the post. When he saw Bosh switch to defend him, but hesitate briefly, he let go.
"How about C.J. making another big jumper for us when things weren't looking very good," Nelson said. "I'm just very pleased with the way we're playing."
Notes: Citing league tampering rules, Nelson declined comment on a Bay Area News Group report that Baron Davis told Jackson he would love to return to the Warriors from the Los Angeles Clippers. "Players can do it, but coaches can't," Nelson said. Turiaf chalked it up to "wishful thinking" by Jackson. "He was probably asked, 'Do you think Baron wants to come back?' 'Yeah, I'm pretty sure he wants to come back, because we had a good time,' " Turiaf said. "The way I look at it, it's Stephen caring about one of his best friends in the NBA. Whenever you have a chance to play with your best friend, you're always happy and you want that to happen." ... Toronto center Jermaine O'Neal started and had two points and three rebounds in eight minutes before leaving with flu-like symptoms. He did not return. ... Forward Corey Maggette missed his 13th consecutive game Monday night with a strained right hamstring. The team hopes he can return during this road trip.
Contact Jeff Faraudo at email@example.com.