Golden State 120, New York 101

OAKLAND, Calif., Feb 14 (AP) -- After spending far too much time traveling across the country to face his legal problems recently, Stephen Jackson isn't going anywhere during the All-Star break.

So when his fellow Golden State Warriors appeared determined to start their vacations early, Jackson kept them around long enough to hold off the New York Knicks.

Jackson scored 21 of his season high-tying 36 points in a fantastic first half, but the Warriors blew most of a 31-point lead before beating New York 120-101 Wednesday night.

Jackson made a career-best 16 shots and added a season-high eight assists, while Monta Ellis had 23 points and seven assists as the Warriors improved to 19-9 at home despite letting their big lead dwindle to nine points.

Golden State is hanging on despite major injuries to Baron Davis and Jason Richardson - and while Jackson is healthy, he has other obstacles to surmount. As recently as Monday, Jackson traveled from an Indiana courtroom to the Warriors' game in Denver while dealing with the fallout from his infamous fight outside an Indianapolis strip club last fall.

Jackson acknowledges he has been distracted - but after a little rest, he turned in perhaps his best performance since joining the Warriors in a trade.

"It's great not to have to get on a plane and then play,'' Jackson said. "I don't ever make excuses, but those days were hard on my body. I was just glad to get some rest and put in the kind of effort I know I can.''

Jackson went 9-for-14 with three 3-pointers and five assists while playing every minute of the first half. The undermanned Warriors jumped to a 26-point lead shortly before halftime, and Knicks guard Quentin Richardson was ejected for arguing a no-call with 57 seconds left.

But Nate Robinson scored 21 of his season-high 23 points in the second half for the Knicks, who didn't find a flow until they trailed by 31 points midway through the third quarter.

"The disappointing thing was that we didn't have energy,'' Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "We were a step slow in the legs. Our concentration wasn't there. We looked like a tired team when they looked sharp and crisp.''

David Lee added 13 points and 10 rebounds for New York, which cut the lead to nine points with less than 7 minutes to play before Jackson and Ellis led a decisive rally.

Eddy Curry and rookie Renaldo Balkman also scored 13 points apiece, with Balkman getting all of his points in the second half. Though Robinson's attempt to lead a comeback failed, he remained quietly pleased.

"We were at pretty much rock-bottom, and we played so hard, so well,'' Robinson said. "But we let this game get behind us in the first half. Digging a hole like that for yourself is tough. ... We tied our (win) total for last year in the (first) half of the season, so we just need to keep our confidence high.''

Al Harrington had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Warriors, and Kelenna Azubuike added 15 points.

Golden State snapped a two-game losing streak with its fifth consecutive home victory over New York, but both teams will be grateful for a few days off for the All-Star break after this volatile final appearance by two clubs struggling below .500.

In the first quarter alone, Thomas used 11 players - or two more than Warriors coach Don Nelson had in uniform. Thomas said his club matched up poorly with Golden State, and it showed while the Warriors roared to a huge lead.

After Golden State went ahead 86-55 on Jackson's layup, New York made a 23-6 run to close its 40-point third quarter. The Knicks then opened the fourth with an 8-3 run, and the Oracle Arena crowd grumbled.

"It was unbelievable,'' said Andris Biedrins, who had seven points and seven rebounds. "I think we just relaxed for a moment, and that was our mistake.''

But after Robinson's 3-pointer cut the lead to 100-91, New York ran out of gas, and Golden State made a 14-2 run with six points from Jackson.

Notes: Harrington, Biedrins and Warriors coach Don Nelson all are headed for Maui during the break. ... Thomas continued his curious practice of starting Jerome James for the opening tip and then removing him almost immediately. The 7-foot-1 James has started the Knicks' last five games, but he played only the opening 1:46 against Golden State. ... The Warriors hope Richardson, who broke his hand Dec. 30 in Sacramento, will return for their next game against Memphis next Wednesday. Davis will be out for at least two weeks.

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