OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — During a players' meeting following the All-Star break, Jermaine O'Neal promised his teammates to play the rest of the regular season like he would never play again — because he very well might not.
The 18-year NBA veteran has backed up his words more than anybody ever expected.
O'Neal had season highs of 23 points and 13 rebounds to carry the load for an undermanned frontcourt, and the Golden State Warriors held off the Brooklyn Nets 93-86 Saturday night for their third straight victory since the break.
"Whatever I have, I'm going to leave it on the able. I've said that quite a few times, but I'm dead serious," said the 36-year-old O'Neal, who missed extensive time following surgery on his wrist earlier this season. "You may have to wheel me out of here at the end of the season, but that's what I'm going to do."
With Andrew Bogut sidelined with a left shoulder injury and David Lee out with a stomach flu, O'Neal followed up his game-saving block that preserved Golden State's overtime victory against Houston on Thursday night with a vintage performance.
O'Neal shot 10 for 13 from the floor, and Draymond Green scored a career-best 18 points to go with 10 rebounds starting in Lee's place.
Stephen Curry banked in a big 3-pointer in the final minute to finish with 17 points, and the Warriors won three games in a row for the first time since the Nets ended their 10-game winning streak on Jan. 8 in Brooklyn — crediting O'Neal for leading the way in the locker room and on the court.
"He's getting an opportunity to put a stamp on what he says," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "It's no longer what he says, it's what he's doing."
The veteran Nets never matched the intensity.
Deron Williams had 20 points and six assists, and Joe Johnson scored 15 points for Brooklyn, which struggled to shoot from 3-point range and was just as careless passing. Brooklyn made just 2 of 21 attempts from beyond the arc and committed 16 turnovers.
"I thought we had a lot of good shots, they just didn't fall," said Nets forward Paul Pierce, who scored 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting. "Sometimes you live by the 3, you die by the 3. We should attack more, especially with them limited in their big men."
The Nets made sure the game moved at a plodding pace until the final minutes.
Johnson made an 18-foot fadeaway to tie the score at 84 with 2:22 remaining. Green followed with two free throws, then Andray Blatche converted a tying layup.