He didn't necessarily think it would happen in his rookie year.
Collison's assists total tied Phoenix's Nash for the most in an NBA game this season and was one short of his teammate Paul's franchise record.
"Those are the guys, for us young guys, that we look up to in the NBA," Collison said. "So to be mentioned in the same breath, it's crazy. I still think I need a lot of work, but it feels good for right now."
In a meeting of teams on four-game skids, something had to give. Neither team played much defense, which made for a thrilling, high-scoring, back-and-forth contest to the end. Both teams surpassed 10 3s in the game, with the Warriors tying a season high with 13 on 25 attempts and the Hornets going 10 of 22.
Golden State needed one more 3 to tie it in the final seconds, but C.J. Watson's attempt hit the top of the backboard and New Orleans' James Posey secured the rebound and made a free throw to seal it.
"We played our hearts out. We came up short again," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "I have to be pleased with the way that we're playing. We just can't seem to scratch a win out."
Anthony Morrow made all six 3-pointers he attempted and had 28 points for Golden State. Rookie Reggie Williams, a recent callup from the NBA's development league, also scored 28 points, a career high for him.
"I was just knocking down shots. The long-range jump shots were falling," Williams said.
Golden State also shot 59 percent (50-of-85) and had seven players in double figures. Corey Maggette and Devean George each scored 18; Watson and Stephen Curry each scored 12; and Chris Hunter had 10 points.
Peja Stojakovic scored 16 points for New Orleans, all in the first three quarters before he left with a right groin strain. Emeka Okafor had 22 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, while Morris Peterson scored 12 points, all on his four 3-pointers.
David West also had a team-leading 13 rebounds for New Orleans, which outrebounded the Warriors 44-23.
Helped by 15 offensive rebounds, the Hornets outscored the Warriors 24-7 on second chance points. New Orleans also outscored Golden State 68-44 inside.
The largest lead for either team was 12 when Okafor's alley-oop dunk of Collison's lob made it 84-72. Golden State responded with six straight points on Williams' jumper, Maggette's driving layup and Hunter's turnaround bank shot, and no team led by more than single digits again.
Golden State led 123-121 on Morrow's driving floater with 3:09 left. West responded with a tough layup as he was spun around and fouled by George. He converted the three-point play, igniting a 9-0 run that featured three layups by Thornton, the last after Collison made his third steal and fed his fellow rookie the ball on a fast break.
"I don't know how fun it is for the old fellas, but I know for me and Darren, it's fun getting up and down" the court, Thornton said. "That's our type of play. We excel in that type of play. I'm just happy we pulled off the win."
Thornton, who left the Hornets' previous game last Friday with a back injury in the fourth quarter, did all of his scoring in only 29 minutes off the bench.
"He's playing off the charts as far as scoring. He has no conscience right now," Collison said. "He's really starting to get the hang of it. The craziest thing is it's only his first year. Once he starts knowing when to get his shots up, where to get his shots up, it's going to be even crazier."
Curry's back-to-back 3s trimmed New Orleans' lead to 130-129 with 30 seconds left. Collison then ran down the shot clock, drove into the paint and drained a driving floater over Curry to make it 132-129 with 9.7 seconds left.
New Orleans then purposely fouled Williams to prevent Golden State from hitting another 3. Williams made both free throws, but the Hornets were able to inbound to West, who made two free throws on the other end with 7.3 seconds left.
Collison's nine assists in the first quarter tied his career high for one quarter. ... Golden State has made at least 13 3s in a game two other times this season, in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 10 and a loss to Philadelphia on Feb. 23. ... The Hornets' 135 points were a season high and fourth highest in Hornets history. The last time they scored more was 136 on April 9, 1997, against Boston.