The Warriors are four games in front of the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers and 4½ games ahead of the Utah Jazz. Any combination of three Warriors wins or losses by the Jazz would clinch Golden State's first playoff berth since 2007.
"The big thing for us," Lee said, "is continuing to compete."
After not playing since Saturday, Golden State hardly looked like a team headed to the postseason at the start.
At one point in the first quarter, the Warriors missed 10 consecutive shots from the floor during a scoreless stretch of more than 4 minutes. The Hornets took a 30-19 lead early in the second quarter behind a balanced backcourt of Gordon and Greivis Vasquez, though they missed a chance to create more separation when they had the chance.
"We felt like there was a little bit of a lull in the building," Jack said. "The fans were kind of just waiting, chomping at the bit for us to give them something to cheer for."
Once the Warriors found that rhythm, New Orleans struggled to slow them down.
Curry made a pair of 3-pointers and threw a deep pass to Lee for a runaway dunk to highlight a 25-6 surge that gave Golden State a 44-36 lead. Curry added another from beyond the arc to put the Warriors up 51-42 at the break.
New Orleans started strong — and Golden State didn't — again in the second half.
Lopez's short jumper in the lane sliced Golden State's lead to 69-68 late in the third quarter. Jack answered with a 3-pointer on the other end, and Curry hit another at the start of the fourth quarter to put the Warriors up seven and send a 28th straight sellout crowd announced at 19,596 into a frenzy.
Gordon tried to will New Orleans back, but had little help from a young team still trying to find its way. He made 10 of 11 free throws but shot just 5 of 17 from the field.
"Some guys had a tough shooting night but we had more defensive breakdowns in the first half than we've had in full games lately," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "They did a great job of exploiting that."
NOTES: Hornets reserve F Lance Thomas sat out with a sore foot. Williams said Thomas hurt his foot in a workout Monday and is day to day. ... The Warriors have swept the season series against the Hornets four times in 26 years. ... A moment of silence was held before the game for Greg Willard, a longtime referee who died of pancreatic cancer Monday at age 54.