OAKLAND, Calif. -- Don Nelson sometimes wonders whether his Golden State Warriors subconsciously like falling behind just because it feels so good to come back.
He should be wondering whether this lifestyle is healthy for a 67-year-old coach, but Nelson figures these are acceptable risks while he's still figuring out this dynamic yet overdramatic young team.
Stephen Jackson scored a season-high 41 points, hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer and getting 10 of the Warriors' 12 consecutive points in the final minutes of a stunning 120-117 victory against the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
Jackson's 3-pointer with 55.6 seconds to play gave Golden State its first lead since the opening minute of its 11th victory in 15 games. Monta Ellis added 22 points and Al Harrington had 21 for the Warriors, who fell behind by 23 points in the first half but gradually chipped away at the lead, eventually holding Washington scoreless for 2:50 while rallying for another tension-smothered win.
"Never a dull moment around here, huh?" Nelson said after watching his club's 12th comeback from a double-digit deficit already this season.
"I wish we played every possession the way we played in the second half, but that just doesn't happen," he added. "A shot here, a shot there, and a totally different outcome. ... Why? Don't ask me. I'm only the coach. Why do we start games that way? I don't have a clue."
It's the finishing that really matters, and Captain Jack was comfortable filling Baron Davis' usual role as the Warriors' fourth-quarter gamebreaker. Playing on a sprained left ankle, Jackson made six free throws and that big 3-pointer in the final minute, finishing one point shy of his career high after scoring 16 in the fourth quarter.
"Coming back, it's the growth of this team," Jackson said after the 23-point comeback, the NBA's fourth-largest this season. "Last year, we'd get down and wouldn't keep our composure. If we just come out with a defensive mind-set along with making shots, it's tough for us to lose."
Roger Mason scored a career-high 32 points and Antawn Jamison added 25 for the Wizards, who lost their eighth straight and fell apart late in an otherwise outstanding game for a club missing three key players with injuries. Washington is on its longest skid in more than six years, giving up a 15-4 run by the Warriors in the final three minutes.
"It stinks that it's all for nothing," said Mason, the journeyman guard starting only his eighth game of the season. "We were desperate tonight, and we should have won. It's very tough to shake off. We played well the whole game."
Except those last few minutes, when the Warriors did the improbable again. Davis had 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as Golden State swept the season series from Washington for the first time in five years.
Only Jackson's heroics prevented the Warriors' second embarrassing home loss to an injury-plagued Eastern Conference club in five days. Chicago outran Golden State for a 114-108 victory last week while playing without three of its top four scorers.
And one night after running themselves ragged in a one-point loss at Phoenix, the Wizards were far faster than Golden State in an inspired first half even without injured regulars Caron Butler, Antonio Daniels and Gilbert Arenas.
The Wizards took a 17-point lead into halftime, with 70 of their 72 points coming from only four players. It was easily Washington's highest-scoring half of the season, and only five off the franchise record set in December 2006.
"They put the pressure on us, (and) we let it slip away -- well, maybe that's not the right words," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "We had a chance to tie it there at the end, but they put the pressure on us, hit the 3s and made plays."
Brendan Haywood was largely unstoppable in the first half, but the center scored only two of his 20 points in the second half. DeShawn Stevenson added 18 points for Washington.
Golden State, which finished on a 23-10 run, closed the gap to 113-111 on Jackson's free throws with 2:03 left. Jackson missed a potential tying free throw with a minute left, but Andris Biedrins grabbed the loose ball to set up Jackson's go-ahead 3-pointer.
Chris Webber had two points, four rebounds and three fouls while starting his third consecutive game for the Warriors. The former Washington forward played only 14 minutes. ... Daniels has a right knee injury, and Butler has a strained left hip. ... Jamison converted a four-point play as Washington took a 16-point lead in the first quarter. ... Washington rookie Dominic McGuire hit his first NBA 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer, somehow making an awkward fallaway by his bench.