Of all the coming-out parties the Warriors have seen this season, Corey Maggette's might have been the longest in coming. Golden State's pricey free agent has missed half the year with bad hamstrings, but here he was in Game 41, the exact midpoint, hustling and hitting in crunch time.
Here he was, snagging rebounds left and right and kissing in a layup to tie the game. Here he was, diving to the floor for a loose ball and calling timeout with 1:45 left.
And here was Maggette, so woeful from the foul line in Wednesday's loss to the Kings, getting sent to the stripe again and again and swishing a pair of free throws with 40.5 seconds to seal the Warriors' 119-114 triumph over Atlanta.
"Without his rebounding, the way he played, we wouldn't have won tonight," said Stephen Jackson, who had 24 points, six assists and seven rebounds in his own return from a hamstring injury.
For just the sixth time this season, Jackson, Jamal Crawford and Maggette played alongside each other for the Warriors, and the result Friday was a more polished, confident and dangerous unit down the stretch.
Crawford, essentially playing his third game in three nights after logging 60 minutes against the Kings in triple overtime, was on the floor for all but 32 seconds against Atlanta.
And not only did Crawford show little sign of fatigue, he got better as the game wore on. He scored 14 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter and turned in one of his better defensive efforts as a Warrior, deflecting passes early and unofficially swatting away a shot at the end of the third.
Maggette matched him with 14 points in the fourth and hit every shot he attempted - four field goals and six free throws - before finishing with 24 points and a season-high 16 rebounds off the bench.
"He guarded, he rebounded and he scored. He got 24 points on nine shots - not many players can do that," Warriors coach Don Nelson said.
Joe Johnson had 25 points for the Hawks, who had to finish the game without forward Marvin Williams after he took a scary fall on his head in the second quarter. Williams was taken to a local hospital for observation for a possible concussion.
Back-to-back-to-back three-pointers by Mike Bibby and Flip Murray gave Atlanta a 104-102 lead with about three minutes to play before the Warriors' veteran core took over.
"We made shots, that always helps your execution look good," Nelson said. "But I think we went where the easier score was. We had about three attack zones in mind and we milked each one of them until they dried up.
"When we got guys like Corey drawing fouls, Jamal hitting shots, we're going to be hard to beat when everybody's clicking," Jackson said. "We're starting to learn how to play together. That's just as big as Monta Ellis coming back."
Which, of course, will be the story as the Warriors look ahead, to the second half of a lost season, with the lure of full health.
NUMBERS GAME Joe Johnson's rank in minutes played at 39.6 per game.Stephen Jackson's rank in minutes played at 39.4 per game.Points Kelenna Azubuike is averaging above last season's average. He's the Warriors' fifth-leading scorer at 13.8 ppg.