CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Maybe a defensive coordinator will work in basketball. But it sure helps when you've got a guy hitting almost every shot at the other end.
Behind 50 points from Jamal Crawford, the Golden State Warriors beat the Charlotte Bobcats 110-103 on Saturday night, giving Warriors coach Don Nelson a win in his first game with a new coaching structure.
Yielding control of his NBA-worst defense to assistant Keith Smart and calling him the "defensive coordinator," the Warriors did just enough at that end and let Crawford dominate on offense in his best game since being acquired from New York last month.
"He's an amazing scorer when he heats up," Nelson said.
Crawford was 14-of-26 from the field, 5-of-8 from 3-point range and made 17 of 18 free throws. He was two points shy of his career high, and became the first Warrior to reach 50 points since Antawn Jamison did it in consecutive games in the 2000-01 season.
Crawford continually beat Raja Bell and Raymond Felton off the dribble for layups or fouls, bringing the type of explosive offense the Warriors envisioned when they sent Al Harrington to the Knicks to get him.
"I feel like I can pretty much get any shot I want," Crawford said. "I let people off the hook by settling for jump shots."
Kelenna Azubuike added 21 points and the Warriors snapped a five-game losing streak with Nelson and Smart co-coaching the team.
"Basically you've got a guy out there with his confidence as high as the sky and he's only playing one end," Wallace said of Crawford. "He's only playing offense, so what can you say?"
Maybe Nelson's new strategy has a ways to go to be successful.
Nelson said he decided Friday afternoon to turn over the defense to Smart, explaining after Friday's loss to Atlanta that he's not tough enough and that "I'm getting soft as I get older."
The 68-year-old Nelson didn't inform the players of the move until before Saturday's game, which the Warriors entered allowing 112.2 points per game.
Smart got out of his seat and shouting instructions when Charlotte had the ball. They each had chairs in the huddle during timeouts, and several times Smart spoke before Nelson.
"I think that's an honor and a credit to Nellie," Crawford said. "I think him being a Hall of Fame guy and identifying that as one of his weaknesses and doing something about it, it's a credit to Coach Nel."
The defense faltered early in the fourth quarter, as the Bobcats cut a 12-point deficit to 95-88 on Felton's 3-pointer with 4:53 left. Crawford responded with a 3-pointer on the next possession, then later added two free throws and a mid-range jumper.
It was quite a turnaround from a night earlier, when Crawford scored six points on 3-of-15 shooting.
"I was just out of it yesterday," Crawford said. "I got mad (at myself) yesterday and I played horribly because of it."
The Bobcats, who shot a franchise-best 66 percent in a blowout win Friday at Memphis, were mad they couldn't build off their best performance of the season.
"When you're not a great team, you've got to be ready to play every night," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said.
Crawford made up for subpar games from some of his teammates. A night after scoring a career-high 19 points, Brandan Wright got the start, committed three fouls in five minutes, and didn't score. Rookie Anthony Randolph, after not getting off the bench against the Hawks, scored two points in seven minutes.
It didn't matter with Crawford schooling whomever guarded him. His offbalance 3 over Felton put Golden State ahead 84-72 late in the third quarter.
|'He's an amazing scorer when he heats up,' Don Nelson says about Jamal Crawford. (AP)|
|Golden State (8-20) «||27||29||31||23||110|
|GS:J. Crawford 50 Pts
GS:K. Azubuike 13 Reb
GS:J. Crawford 5 Ast
|CHA:G. Wallace 26 Pts
CHA:E. Okafor 13 Reb
CHA:R. Felton 8 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|J. Crawford, SG||46||14-26||17-18||2||5||2||50|
|K. Azubuike, SF||42||7-18||4-5||13||0||2||21|
|A. Biedrins, C||34||5-7||1-4||9||3||6||11|
|M. Belinelli, SG||34||5-10||1-1||1||4||3||13|
|B. Wright, SF||8||0-3||0-0||3||0||3||0|
|C. Watson, PG||25||1-3||3-4||3||1||0||5|
|R. Turiaf, PF||24||2-5||0-0||6||5||3||4|
|R. Kurz, SF||10||1-2||2-2||3||0||3||4|
|A. Morrow, SG||8||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|A. Randolph, SF||7||0-3||2-2||3||0||1||2|
|D. Nelson, SG||1||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|C. Maggette, SF||Did Not Play|
|S. Jackson, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Ellis, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Williams, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|R. Felton, PG||45||6-19||0-1||2||8||4||14|
|G. Wallace, SF||39||8-15||9-11||4||2||4||26|
|R. Bell, SG||38||7-12||2-2||6||3||2||21|
|E. Okafor, C||34||6-13||0-3||13||1||4||12|
|B. Diaw, SF||29||5-9||0-0||10||6||5||11|
|D. Augustin, PG||20||2-4||0-0||0||3||3||6|
|R. Hollins, C||13||1-2||5-6||2||0||1||7|
|J. Howard, PF||8||1-2||0-0||2||1||0||2|
|A. Morrison, SF||7||0-2||0-0||0||2||2||0|
|M. Carroll, SG||6||2-3||0-0||0||0||1||4|
|N. Mohammed, C||Did Not Play|
|S. May, PF||Did Not Play|
|S. Brown, PG||Did Not Play|
|A. Ajinca, C||Did Not Play|
|S. Singletary, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|