NEW ORLEANS -- Just about every body part of reserve center Jermaine O'Neal hurt, but there was no stepping down from the challenge, not when the Golden State Warriors, losers of three straight, could suit up only 10 players.
"I'll be honest, I have a wrist injury, I have a knee injury, a groin injury and a viral infection," the 35-year-old veteran said after Tuesday night's 102-101 gut-check victory over the NEW ORLEANS Pelicans at the NEW ORLEANS Arena. "I couldn't even talk a day ago, but my thought process about playing never wavered."
The 18-year NBA veteran, starting at center because of the one-game suspension of Andrew Bogut, didn't simply play. O'Neal hit his first six shots, finishing with a season-high 18 points, and grabbed eight rebounds. And, on a team dominated by the radar-like perimeter shooting of guards Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, O'Neal made the key offensive play down the stretch to stop the bleeding for the Warriors (9-6).
With Golden State clinging to a 100-99 lead, O'Neal got the ball deep in the lane, turned and seemed to be tied up by guard Eric Gordon. At first it looked as though the officials might call for a jump ball, but O'Neal recovered in time to hit a short turnaround jumper that put Golden State up 102-99 with 2:08 left.
"I've got kids in school," Jackson said. "I've got bills to pay."
O'Neal said his turnaround jumper was his go-to move.
"I felt like obviously my size was a factor," the 6-foot-11 O'Neal said. "I'm a right shoulder guy. If I was able to get to the right shoulder, he wasn't going to be able to block it or alter the shot. I've been in that position many, many times, and I try to go to my most-patented move, and that's the turnaround jump shot."
After the teams traded misses, the Pelicans trimmed the deficit to 102-101 on a rebound and follow-up dunk by forward Anthony Davis with 47.2 seconds left. O'Neal missed a short jumper over forward Ryan Anderson on Golden State's next possession, giving the Pelicans a chance to win the game.
Point guard Jrue Holiday drove into the lane but saw Gordon free in the left corner. Holiday flipped the ball out to Gordon, whose open 3-pointer rolled around the rim and leaked out at the buzzer.
"Eric gets a wide-open look, and it goes down and comes out," said Pelicans coach Monty Williams. "He make the shot, they're asking them the same questions. This game is cruel. It's a cruel game. We had two open looks down the stretch to win the game."
"Same play, same shot, and it just didn't fall for me tonight," Gordon said."
Warriors guard Klay Thompson led all scorers with 22 points had eight assists, but he was more impressed by O'Neal's gritty effort. The Warriors also were missing forward Andre Iguodala, who did not suit up because of a hamstring injury.
"Man, I knew he was a capable post scorer," Thompson said. "He's proven that over his career. To see him go in there and get rebounds and fight for everything and show us how much he loves the game was great. We played through him. He was a man tonight, and that's what we expect from J.O. He's a great player."
Warriors guard Stephen Curry had seven of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, and he added nine assists and eight rebounds. David Lee added 19 and Harrison Barnes 14 as all five Golden State starters notched double figures.
The Pelicans (6-8) were led by Anderson's 21 points off the bench, but they couldn't convert on their final possession.
NOTES: Warriors C Andrew Bogut's one-game suspension, meted out by the NBA for his part in a scuffle with the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, cost him $127,000 (his pro-rated, single-game salary). Bogut was not ejected from the game, but league officials ordered the suspension after reviewing the tape of the altercation. ... Golden State coach Mark Jackson, whose team started a four-game road swing Tuesday night, said F Andre Iguodala (strained left hamstring) was not expected to play during the entire trip, which ends Sunday. ... Pelicans coach Monty Williams said his patience is growing thin with SF Al-Farouq Aminu, who scored just 10 points in the previous three games. He may insert F Josh Childress into the starting lineup if Aminu does not start producing. SG Tyreke Evans could play small forward, but Williams said he prefers teaming Evans with F Ryan Anderson to give the Pelicans scoring punch off the bench.