OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — David Lee knows Golden State is doing things few expected. Still, even he was a bit surprised by the Warriors' latest milestone.
Lee had 25 points and 12 rebounds and the Warriors held off a late charge in the fourth quarter to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 96-89 on Friday, securing Golden State's 20th victory of the season.
It's the first time in more than 30 years that the Warriors have reached 20 wins before New Year's Day, another big achievement for a team that won only 23 games during the lockout-shortened 2011 season.
"Before the (2006-07) 'We Believe team? Wow," Lee said. "We're getting back into the Run-TMC stuff, huh? Was this back in Cazzie Russell in '72? We're just trying to make our own history here. I don't think our best ball's even been played yet."
Golden State clearly wasn't its sharpest against Philadelphia but did just enough to beat the Sixers for the first time in more than two years.
The Warriors committed 18 turnovers and nearly blew a 20-point lead in the second half when Philadelphia made its best run of the night.
Philadelphia pulled to 84-80 on Royal Ivey's 3-pointer with 6:23 left to play before Lee scored six straight as part of his 19th double-double this season to help Golden State pull away.
"He's our voice in the middle," said Jarrett Jack, who had 16 points and six assists. "No one's really shown that they can contain him."
Carl Landry added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors, who hadn't defeated the Sixers since Dec. 27, 2010.
Jrue Holiday had 21 points and 10 assists for Philadelphia. The Sixers have lost eight of 10 on the road.
"We just waited too long to come back and those guys are playing real good right now," said former Warrior Dorrell Wright, who had eight points in his second straight start in place of the injured Jason Richardson. "They've gotten a lot better on defense. They (used to) let you back in the game."
Golden State (20-10) kept its best start in more than two decades going by getting balanced scoring and outhustling a pesky Philadelphia team.
It wasn't always pretty.
The Warriors committed six turnovers in the first quarter then needed a strong fourth quarter from Lee to hold off the Sixers. Golden State had dropped its previous three against Philadelphia, including a pair of blowout losses in 2011.