OAKLAND, Calif. -- Baron Davis and Chris Paul traded basket after basket, pass after pass. The Hornets' star point guards of the past and present had a scintillating duel, lifting their teammates on their shoulders.
Luckily for the Golden State Warriors, Davis' shoulders were a bit broader.
Davis had 36 points and nine assists against his former club, and the Warriors knocked off the NBA's last unbeaten team with a 121-116 victory over New Orleans on Thursday night.
Paul had a career-high 34 points and 10 assists in another dominant game, but Davis wouldn't allow the Hornets to extend the best start in the franchise's 19-year history after opening with four wins, including a four-point victory over the Warriors in Oklahoma City two days earlier.
While icing his right foot after the game, Davis was mostly thrilled by the young Warriors' ability to adjust to injured guard Jason Richardson's absence -- not by his intriguing battle with last season's Rookie of the Year.
"They were playing some of the best basketball in the Western Conference, so that makes it feel good," Davis said before getting postgame congratulations from Paul Silas, his former coach with the Hornets who attended the game.
"They're a team that we're going to be fighting for a playoff spot. We grew up a little bit in this game. It's only a matter of time before we start to gel."
Monta Ellis scored 21 points and Murphy added 20 as Golden State scored easily and often against the Hornets' usually impressive defense.
Davis and Paul both took charge in the fourth quarter, when the Warriors nursed a narrow lead through the final minutes. After creating just enough offense to keep Golden State ahead, Davis then hit five of the Warriors' nine free throws in the final 37 seconds.
"This was carrying a team on his back, basically," Warriors coach Don Nelson said of Davis, who didn't make a turnover in 44 minutes of action. "I'm awful proud of him. He carried the team. It was just two big-time guys trying to win the game."
Paul was more spectacular, but not quite as effective as his veteran counterpart.
Paul's driving layup with 90 seconds left cut Golden State's lead to 112-108. After Davis hit two free throws, Paul converted an exceptional three-point play and fouled out Ellis in the process, cutting the lead to 114-111.
But Davis hit two more free throws to match his highest-scoring performance since getting a career-high 40 two seasons ago. Paul then missed a short jumper, and Troy Murphy and Matt Barnes made two free throws apiece to seal it.
"They had us on our heels, and that's a huge credit to them," Paul said afterward while noting his career-high performance on the stat sheet. "We have a very special team. If we defend teams, the sky is the limit."
Richardson was scratched from the Warriors' lineup with fluid buildup in his surgically repaired left knee, but Ellis thrived in his starting spot while Mickael Pietrus scored 18 points for the Warriors, who made 51 percent of their shots and hit 13 3-pointers in the opener of a seven-game homestand.
Both clubs played uptempo offensive games with little consistent regard for defense. New Orleans had allowed just 90 points per game in its first four contests, but Golden State surpassed that mark on Davis' jumper with 6.8 seconds left in the third quarter, putting the Warriors up 92-83.
Davis, who spent nearly six seasons with the Hornets in Charlotte and New Orleans before clashing with coach Byron Scott, steadily attacked the Hornets with his inside-out game. Ellis added seven points early in the fourth quarter as Golden State patiently maintained a healthy lead.
"There were times when we cut the lead to six or seven (points), and they would come up with a big 3-pointer," Scott said. "I'm pleased that we didn't quit playing, (but) we just didn't do a good job taking care of the ball."
- F Ike Diogu was a scratch with a sprained ankle, and G Dajuan Wagner was in uniform for the first time this season, though he didn't play.
- Golden State's homestand matches the longest in franchise history. The Warriors have 12 home games in November, the most in any month in franchise history.