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Hornets beat Warriors when Wright is called for goaltending

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Associated Press
4/25/2012 1:44:32 AM
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OAKLAND, Calif. - Golden State's Chris Wright was called for goaltending on Marco Belinelli's layup with 1.5 seconds remaining, and the New Orleans Hornets beat the Warriors 83-81 Tuesday night.

Greivis Vazquez blocked Charles Jenkins' layup to start a fast break in the final seconds. He pushed the ball ahead to a wide-open Belinelli, whose layup touched the backboard and was on its way down before Wright hustled over for the illegal swat.

In an odd scene, many Warriors fans were actually cheering for the Hornets.

Golden State has to finish in the bottom seven of the league after the draft lottery to keep its protected first-round pick, acquired by Utah in a previous trade. The Warriors are eighth worst in the league entering Thursday night's season finale at home against San Antonio.

Warriors rookie Klay Thompson had a team-high 16 points through three quarters but was benched for the fourth in a curious move by rookie coach Mark Jackson. Jeremy Tyler, who fouled out with about 3 minutes left, finished with 13 points and eight rebounds for Golden State -- still in position to tie Toronto or New Jersey for the seventh-worst record.

The Raptors and Nets play each other Thursday. If Golden State is tied with either, the league holds a drawing to decide draft position.

Belinelli, sent to Toronto in exchange for Devean George in 2009 after two seasons at Golden State, scored 23 points and Gustavo Ayon had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets, who began Tuesday last in the Western Conference and third-worst in the NBA.

Golden State scored the game's first eight points and seemed on its way to a rare runaway win.

Not that many here wanted it.

Instead, Belinelli boosted the Bay Area's basketball-starved base more than he ever did as a member of the Warriors, giving the home fans something most of them have wanted for more than a month: losses to improve position in the NBA draft lottery. He scored 14 in the first half to tie the score at 43-all.

Belinelli shot only 2 of 5 in the third quarter and the Warriors went ahead 64-61 entering the fourth.

After Golden State went ahead by seven, Belinelli made a 3-pointer and Vazquez followed with a running layup to tie the score at 81-all. Vazquez then blocked Jenkins to start the winning break, keeping Golden State in the hunt for a high first-round pick.

That's about all that was left to decide between these two bottomdwellers.

With only nine active players on each side, the two teams had a long injury list than starting lineups.

The Warriors played without David Lee (strained groin and stress reaction), Andris Biedrins (mild concussion) and backup point guard Nate Robinson (right hamstring). Andrew Bogut (fractured left ankle) and Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) have long been out for the season and are scheduled for arthroscopic surgeries this week.

That has forced Jackson -- who started all three of the team's draft picks this season along with reserve Mickell Gladness, who was originally signed to a 10-day contract in late March, and veteran Richard Jefferson -- to refute questions about the franchise intentionally losing to protect its high first-round draft pick.

The Hornets were without Eric Gordon (back), Chris Kaman (bruised lower leg), Jason Smith (sprained left ankle) and Emeka Okafor (sore left knee). Trevor Ariza already had been excused from the team's final road trip.

NOTES: Lee is scheduled to visit Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia on Wednesday for the forward's strained groin and stress reaction. He missed seven straight games. ... Hornets coach Monty Williams said Gordon also will sit out the season finale Thursday at Houston to rest his back. ... Season-ticket holder Kevin Cronin from San Francisco made a half-court shot to win $25,000 between the third and fourth quarters.

Greivis Vazquez (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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