for this game

Pietrus, Warriors coast to care-free win over 76ers

Mar 1, 2008 - 7:38 AM By Ryan Leong PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers are in the same boat, but their records would indicate otherwise.

Mickael Pietrus scored a season-high 23 points off the bench while Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson scored 21 apiece as the Warriors posted a 119-97 victory over the 76ers on Friday night.

Golden State (35-22) has won three of its last four games and 15 of 21 but still trails the Houston Rockets (38-20) by 2 1/2 games for the seventh playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"I think it's very important for us, off the bench, to come out very focused because we have a lot of games to go before the playoffs," Pietrus said. "And I think we need everybody, that's what we did last year the last 20 games. We really stuck together and try to play the best basketball as we can and we did."

Warriors coach Don Nelson started resting his regulars near the end of the third quarter with the game well in hand on Friday.

"I think the game speaks for itself," Nelson said. "The bench played, they were ready, the team had a great start and we opened the game well."

Golden State extended its lead to 21 points early in the fourth quarter before the Sixers went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 94-80 with over nine minutes remaining. The 76ers would get as close as 12 points with four minutes to go but couldn't complete the comeback.

"We just gutted it out," said Ellis, who shot 60 percent from the field in February. "I wouldn't say me shooting 60 percent was the real reason we (won) 7 of 10 this month. It's just everyone dug down deep and tried to get (the win)."

Despite the loss, the Sixers (26-33) are still one-half game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks (24-32) in the Eastern Conference standings, holding the eighth playoff spot with the final three seeds all having losing records.

"We're there but we've got to learn how to play with confidence and try to keep this spot," 76ers forward Andre Iguodala said. "There's a little bit of pressure on some guys so we've just got to learn to play with that. It can help us as far as the situation we're in and trying to keep that spot."

The Warriors pushed a 15-point halftime lead to 19 early in the third quarter. The 76ers trailed by such a large margin that they did not get within single digits in the second half and were behind 90-73 with 12 minutes to play.

"It's tough when you get down," Iguodala said. "You try to speed it up and play right into their hands. I think we struggled to get back in transition and once we couldn't hit a shot we started quick shooting and from there we played into their hands."

Andre Miller and Rodney Carney each scored 18 points for Philadelphia, which had its two-game winning streak snapped.

The 76ers managed to score 52 points in the first half but the Warriors shot 60 percent from the floor while making 7-of-12 from the 3-point arc to forge a 67-52 lead at halftime.

Both teams got off to a terrible start. The game was scoreless for the first 2:29 as the Warriors went just 1-of-7 in the opening minutes.

The 76ers were 0-of-14 from the floor and didn't make their first basket until the 4:14 mark of the first quarter. Philadelphia finished the period shooting 23 percent from the field, quickly falling behind, 26-18, at the end of the first quarter.

"The start of our game was bad," 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "They didn't score the ball initially, but when they started scoring, we still did not score the ball, and that's what put us in such a drought initially.

"And then we had to try to climb up the hill the whole time, and once you try to do that the way they shoot the ball, if they're making shots, it's going to be a hard way to get back in the game."

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