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Game #13 (5-8): Warriors 111, Mavericks 103

It is obvious that something positive is going on in Warriors land. And the turning point, though it sounds too simple, was the departure of swingman Stephen Jackson.

Since they traded him to Charlotte last Monday, the Warriors nearly upset the Cavaliers in Cleveland, played the Celtics tough in Boston, handled Portland in Oakland, and  beat the Mavericks in Dallas. They’ve done it while short on players. They’ve done it against heavy odds. They’ve done it against some of the league’s best teams.

Sure, Cleveland wasn’t playing great. Boston played around until stepping on the gas again. The Blazers have struggled in Oakland for a while now. And Dallas is banged up.

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But even with those qualifiers, it’s hard to argue against the strides the Warriors have made lately.

MONTA ELLIS: “We’ve been playing great ball these last five games. Some of them we didn’t win, but we took a lot from them. We play together and anybody can get beaten. We usually have (Dallas’) number and they don’t have any shot blockers so our game plan was to really attack the basket, and that’s what we did.”

Ellis has been a major reason for the turnaround. With Jackson gone, he is the undisputed top option. And his style of making plays fits much better into the Warriors style. He’s quick and decisive with his decisions, even when he goes 1-on-3, and that promotes the quick style the Warriors play. Also, he gets in the lane a lot, which breaks down defenses. (Jackson did most of his damage from the outside. He was good when he drove the lane successfully, but he wasn’t successful as often as Ellis)

Ellis has learned to find guys once he gets by his man and the help comes, something he’s gotten markedly better at over the years at that, though often it’s after he’s in the air, which is poor fundamentals. Jackson’s strength was his ability to pass off penetration and in traffic. If Ellis continues to grow in that area, it makes up for the passing they lost with Jackson.

ELLIS: “We’re having fun again. That’s what we’re doing, we’re having fun, playing together as a team. There’s a whole different vibe we have right now.”

Plus, Ellis is simply harder to defend. He’s quick, he can jump and he has a knack for scoring. Jackson, though he could get you 20, didn’t cause as much headaches and adjustments for defenses. The key for Ellis is going to be getting to the line. That is what’s going to take him to another level.

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He was 7-for-9 from the line each of the last two games. It’s the first time he’s made at least 7 free throws in back-to-back games since January 2008. He was 10-for-11 from the line against Minnesota on Jan. 21 and was 13-for-14 against New Jersey on Jan. 24.

Ellis has also assumed leadership of this team, though he repeatedly said he wouldn’t take on a larger role now that Jackson is gone. With 7:18 left, a JJ Barea layup put the Mavericks up 96-87. The crowd was in a frenzy as the Mavericks took control of the game. Ellis answered with a layup to end the Mavs’ run. A timeout followed shortly, and in the huddle Monta asserted himself as a leader.

KEITH SMART: “I’ll tell you what happened. Monta Ellis stepped up in the huddle. ‘We’re OK. We’re OK.’ And it just moved down the line. The beauty of watching him now evolve into an in-game leader, telling everyone we’re ok, we’re ok.”

ELLIS: “I said we’re still here. … We get two 3s and we’re back in it. Just continue to play ball. It’s not over with. We’ve got a lot of time, we’ve got a lot of great players, a lo of shooters, and we’ve been playing great the whole game but we just make the little mistakes. But we’ve been playing through them ad just continue to play through them and have fun.”

Ellis was battling cramps in his calves in the fourth quarter, the product of playing 48 minutes for the second straight game (he also played 40 in Boston and 46 in Cleveland). He got them massaged by the bench during timeouts and never had to leave the game. Rookie guard Stephen Curry compared Ellis’ performance Tuesday to Raja Bell’s performance in Boston.

CURRY: “See a guy giving it his all, leading us where we’re trying to go. He’s fighting through pain. It’s a mission for us to get stops for him and try to finish the game and make that effort worth while.”


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Speaking of Curry, he salvaged what was a poor performance with a huge fourth quarter. He had four turnovers through the first three quarters, several other passes were deflected but the Warriors tracked them down and was 3-for-8. Then, suddenly, he flipped a switch.

MORROW: “Steph, I told him to keep plugging away. He started kinda rough. He wasn’t settled down. So I just totaled to relax and play your game. That’s what he did. He played great. Showed a lot of character. I knew he was going to come out of that trance. It was just he came out and was just a little bit jittery. I told him to just relax. Make the simple play. You don’t have to do too much.  All you’ve got to do is come down, make the simply play, make shots. You a great player. You’ve got good instincts already. Just go and play the game.”

With 7:30 left, he checked in for Mikki Moore. That was just before JJ Barea’s aforementioned layup. First he made the extra pass to get Morrow a good look at a 3-pointer. Morrow naile dit. Then Curry threw what looked like  bad pass — a slow, knuckle ball of a lob — until suddenly a wide-open Anthony Randolph came into view. Randolph’s dunk cut the Warriors’ lead to 2.

At the 3:51 mark, Curry nailed a 19-footer off the pick-and-roll. Arguably the most comfortable he looked on a shot all night. He got himself to te line moments later, then nailed a 3-pointer in transition to give the Warriors the lead for good. He answered a Jason Terry 3-pointer by banking in a running, one-handed floater off one foot over Dirk Nowitzki.

My immediate thought: Did he just do a trick shot with the game on the line?

CURRY: “I work on that every day. I turned right to my coaches, coach Silas and Rico, because we work on that every day. I’m pretty confident in that shot.”

You’re confident in a running banker over a 7-footer?

CURRY: “Rico puts his hand up, so he’s like 7 feet.”

Assistant coach Stephen Silas confirmed that Curry does work on that shot every day and he is money with it. That shot made the score 107-103. Ellis followed with a lay-up, then two free throws from Curry sealed it.

The rookie had 11 points in the final 3:51. He finished with 18 points, 6 assists, 5 fouls, 4 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 3 steals.

ELLIS: “Maaaan. You saw it. He made shots. Got steals, rebounds, defended. Everything we needed  in that fourth quarter out of him. He did that. Him being a rookie, I know a lot of rookies who would’ve just laid down. But he continued to play. He continued to take his shots. He did everything.”

Yes, that was Monta Ellis saying that about Steph Curry.

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Morrow knocked down shots, of course. He was 9-for-16 from the field for 27 points, which was a season high. He also had 9 rebounds and 5 assists, which were also season-highs. That was the best passing game I’ve ever seen from Morrow. He had a few nifty passes after pumping faking the jumper and driving in. He even made a good pass on a fast break, which is usually his downfall.

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When the Warriors went to China for the preseason last year, they got a chance to see the Stone Soldiers, properly known as the Chinese Terra-Cotta soldiers. Back in 1974, farmers digging a well discovered a tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. In this giant tomb was a collection of stone statues, 8,000 soldiers and horses, which represented the Terra-Cotta Army. They were created and put in the Emperor’s tomb to protect him in he afterlife.

So, the Warriors saw these “Stone Soldiers” and decided to use them as motivation.

SMART: “We call ourselves Stone Soldiers. We got a chance to go over to China and experience that and some of the history there. Stone soldiers. You play. You break. But you keep playing. That’s our motto now. Stone soldiers.”

Not sure how the Warriors and Terra-Cotta Army relate. I just thought you might be interested in the history lesson.

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Warriors last played three players for 48 minutes on Nov. 25, 1964 (funny, Lwood) at Boston Garden. Wilt Chamberlain, Guy Rogers and Nate Thurmond each played the entire game.

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As far as I can find, the last team to win using just six players were the Houston Rockets. In Game 4 of the 1981 NBA Finals, they beat the Boston Celtics in Houston. Del Harris, coaching the Rockets, benched Calvin Murphy, among others, and ran with a sixlet of Billy Paultz, Robert Reid, Tom Henderson, Mike Dunleavy, Bill Willoughby and Moses Malone. Dunleavy had 28. Malone finished with 24 points and 22 rebounds in 48 minutes.

Marcus Thompson

  • samuraaaaiiiiiii

    I still find it hard to believe that the Warriors won while Ellis had 11 turnovers… Everything in the game went well except for that. But hey, a win is a win.

  • A’s in 2010

    Marcus I have to say I love the in-game tweeting, ignore the haters! Following you keeps us informed of all things Warriors. So thanks for that!

  • a little frustration sensation

    i am really loving these warriors again. i want the wins, but really, seeing them come out hard, with energy and passion, leaving the drama behind is what makes me happy. but when they learn from their mistakes and grow from them and can come together as a team when they’re so depleted speaks volumes. it makes me proud.

    i was hard on monta a while back, but his hard effort and play is shutting me up. i had questions about his defense, his leadership and his attitude and they are all in check right now. i hope things can stay this way should things get harder, but for right now i’m gonna be happy and roll with it.

    curry was killer late in the game tonight and that shot over dirk was straight up ill. when he starts staying out of foul trouble and can play 4 quarters the way he played that 4th our back court is gonna be very hard to stop.

    i love watching this team again.

  • Livermore Joe

    Really enjoying the long blogs after games, Marcus!

    This team has talent. Now they need stability.

  • lwood

    “Warriors last played three players for 48 minutes on Nov. 25, 2009 at Boston Garden. Wilt Chamberlain, Guy Rogers and Nate Thurmond each played the entire game.”

    When did we get these guys back!?!? Imagine this team with Wilt and Nate… That would be something. Maybe we could put a package together for George, Claxton and Moore? Ha!

    I’m as surprised as everyone by the Dubs play since the trade. Spending this week in Austin I was so encouraged that I trudged out to a Sports Bar to watch. VERY pleased with that decision. I overheard some Dallas fans talking about Monta and how he is not the kind of player to take you to a championship. Got me thinking, who is the last player 6’3″ or under to lead their team to a championship? Does Billups count?

    Marcus, this post is excellent reading and the player quotes are quite insightful. Thanks for the complete coverage!

  • Harp’s Dubs

    Great game to watch last night, but I predict a 16 point loss to the Spurs tonight. Monta’s playing with such a purpose right now – I just wonder what the purpose is. I’ve said all along that he’s an amazing talent, but he’s not a 1 and he’s not a 2. His trade value is as high as it will ever be. We need to make a play for Paul and/or Bosh NOW!

  • alwaysafan

    This was amazing. I am glad I didn’t listen to the haters and stop watching. Fan for life, but FIRE nelson, either promote smart or hire Byron Scott. Ellis, if I could give you props or bake you a cake, I would. Jackson was draining his will, Ellis gets my all star vote!

  • Danzster

    Hey, Frustration Sensation…..
    You said exactly what I’ve also been thinking, and I’m sure the majority of fans agree.

    Monta has elevated his game to a level I didn’t think he had. Four games does not a season make, but with the intense D and court leadership that Monta is demonstrating, he is playing at an All Star level. His offense is once again virtually unstoppable…….and I think you have to draw the conclusion that his loyalty to his teammates from his early years (Baron and Jack, primarily) was holding him back from taking his own game to the next level.

    Now……let’s hope that Nellie doesn’t find some insane reason to start dumping on his best player……

  • earl monroe

    This is what we fans are looking for, effort on defense, quick offense and we can deal with loses and turnovers, most of the turnovers where early.
    This was exciting.
    Interesting though that he chose to go with 6 players, I guess once he realized they
    could have a chance to win it he went with those guys, with this group I don’t mind the mentality of riding young players for long minutes because these young guys are coming together right before our eyes, and that is because they are getting run.
    Makes no sense to have Randolph on the bench, especially on this team

  • WarriorD

    I don’t think it was a coincidence that the Warriors played exciting, fun, clutch, got the win and played without Maggette.

    With Ellis having the ball in his hands on every possesion for 48 minutes trying to make plays, I’ll take 11 TOs and a win. They didn’t seem like bonheaded TOs like you’re kinda use to from the Warriors…most were just him trying to make something happen.

    Lastly, its kinda cool to see Hunter cheering on these guys last night like he’s been on the team all season…yet he just met these guys this week. Hope we can find room for him.

  • kobe24

    It is about time they showed some heart.
    How ironic they did it without Jax, and Nellie!!!
    That is saying that they are the two holding the team back.

    Props to the new Dubs!!!

  • jscrilla

    Stoned Soldiers…isnt that the Giants pitching staff? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

  • MR.FJG_SON

    LOL…nice scrilla. If I put our horrible FO woes aside & coaching drama w/ Nellie possibly needing to hang it up, Last nights game was the first time in a long time I was excited about watching the Dubs. Although much of this team was assmbled by Mullin, I’m sure RR will be taking full credit for this young squad.

    I am just glad to see AR, Morrow, Curry, & Monta getting SIGNIFICANT run in the game and just playing with HEART & HUSTLE. What I’m worried about is when Biedrins comes back and how that will affect AR’s playing time b/c it will probably coincide with Nellie coming back.

    Anyone’s thoughts on Nellie’s comeback and whether or not it might be a good thing or bad thing in terms of chemistry? Does he break up this rotation b/c he wants to get Maggs and CJ in?

  • earl monroe

    Watson and Maggette will have to play tonight, most of the guys should be exhausted, may be easier if Maggette and Watson realize the best way to win is to move the ball

  • deano

    3, 5, 7, 8: Oh happy day. We believe is back. CJ, Rony and Andris must be aching to be healthy and playing with our Magnificent 6. In the meanwhile, I would like to see if Chris Hunter can run with this group; and I think that Maggette can, in fact has, fit in well. It is so great to enjoy what we have, and not put our energy into fantasizing trades.

  • the wise one

    getting rid of jack was the best thing to ever happen to us.(: Like the raiders benching jamarcus. Its amazing how one player cna bring an entire team down.+

  • http://berkeley@waltermork.com BBBerk

    There’s no way that they can continue this torid pace. They’ll get tired and hurt, so….. we just have to enjoy it while we can. The big question in my mind is whether old man Nellie will go quietly, or whether he’ll go prima donna on us.

  • art

    Hey Marcus Thompson, you still think Stephen Jackson was the best player on this team?

  • Mr. B

    Great last 2 games against Blazers and Mavs.

    Lets just hope that the front office does not do anymore numbers like trading Ellis for Andre Miller or some dumb ass move like that.

    You never know with the “bright” guys in the front office.

  • ron redwoods

    The first quarter seemed a case of a new and especially slick basketball being hard for anyone to control.

    At the end of last year,the Warriors were playing very shorthanded…and no Jackson, but won half those games.
    monta only played one of those no-Jack games…but had 42 pt,9 asst. Soon after, CJ had 37 pt,9 asst in a game,then a 12 asst game. Curiously these “combo” guards who could not make it as “REAL” point guards cause they didn’t get assist,were getting assists. Minus the ” veterans” the survivors looked more veteran.

    It was a bad call making Jackson the hub of the team.
    Nellie SHOULD see the obvious and know when and how to limit a player’s role.

    Rather interesting, Monta seemed to say he can’t just take on more and more load….yet he can and already has. Jackson insists he’s the key guy,the spotlight/go-to and even if he’s forcing a 1 on 3 drive,it’s nessecary. Funny……it never worked when Jack tried to do more. The guy that says he can’t…can,and the guy that says he can….can’t.

    Interesting that Vlad is playing much different than in previous incarnations. Instead of just a 3 threat, he’s playing like a savvy veteran, good effort on D and the boards,yet hasn’t really hit 3′s much. i expected soft and dumb.

    Morrow makes me feel good about the 3 pt shot again. Too bad Azubuike is out. Having both Morrow and Azubuike would give the Warriors a 3pt 1-2 punch no other team has. Morrow is steadily adding to his total game. In a year,many will be surprised at how good this guy has become.

  • johnfree

    It doesn’t sound too simple at all that the turnaround starts when Jax leaves.

    In my after the fact psychoanalysis, Jack’s “leadership” consisted of blaming others and laying out guilt trips when you asserted yourself in ways that left him out of the offense.

    NOW … if you need to make a move you make the move – you don’t worry if Jax will be pouting on the other side of the court.

    And the defense … well, you play harder when you feel like you have more ownership of the outcome.

  • Pork Chop

    And when was the last time the Rad man had a double-double?

  • Optimus

    They were absolutely ballin last night. Curry and Monta are great together. They hide each other’s weaknesses. Now all we need is to get our bigs back.

  • deano

    RR @ 18: I also like Morrow on the floor. Although he can drive, his 3 point accuracy will make opponents pay if they pack the paint to prevent penetration by Ellis.

    Curry is becomming another outside threat. Vlad has the rep, even though his 3 point shot is not falling at a high rate right now.

    The presence of all of these shooters means that Ellis can continue to “do what he does”. Add Randolph, Biedrins or Turiaf for rebounding and cutting to the hoop, and the Warriors have an identifiable and sustainable offense. There is a plan here, we have the players to make it work, and we’ve gotten rid of the players who would make it stall.

    Once CJ, Beans and Ronny return, GSW just might be able to keep this mojo going.

  • http://appofmyeye.com ParkerLewis

    Let me get this straight:

    - The team is playing well.
    - Ellis wants to be the leader of the team.
    - He never said he wanted out.
    - Yet so-called fans want to trade him while his value is high.
    - Trade him for Paul or Bosh?

    Yeah, that will never happen. Plus, I rather have a guy who wants to be here and be the leader of the team IF ALLOWED than dudes who are looking to get out of their own situations into BETTER situations.

    Seriously, Fantasy Sports sometimes ruins fandom.

  • MR.FJG_SON

    Deano Your We Believe is back makes me laugh…There are still glaring holes with this squad and it is still run by an inept front office and a coach, that if not for injuries, might be going away from this young rotation in order to play veterans.

    All I’m saying is that people need to calm down after just 2 wins and be more realistic about the state of our team. The rookies and young guys need to be getting the most run on this team bar none. Our vets should make up our 2nd team and even w/ turiaff and biedrins coming back AR needs to maintain his minutes & not be relegated to the bench.

    I’m just as excited as the next person about the last 2 wins. But just because we have won the last 2 doesn’t excuse the horrible front office for the moves they’ve made & the Jackson situation.

    Also just to remind everyone, because we love this team so much, we as fans need to be more tempered in the reality of the situation as well as temper our expectations. Just going overboard and buying in is exactly why Cohan and Rowell can get away with their horrid decisions and ruining of our team because their are no consequences for losing since people get a glimpse of hope & end up packing the arena.

    It’s like a bad relationship, where someone puts up with the abuse and instead of leaving and saying that we aren’t going to take it anymore. We take any little sign of hope & say see there is a reason I’m staying in this but in the long run there is no future until we get rid of the people or persons that hurt us.

    Ohhh and is there some way FITZ can get swine flu again so that way tim roye gets more run on TV. Plus I don’t want to mess up the teams mojo.

  • Marques8

    Nellie gets sick. “Kill Nellie,” they yell. I’m sorry, it’s just “go Nellie.” The Ws win. They play fast. Who created that game? Nellie did and it doesn’t really matter who is coaching it, it’s his team.

    Someone should evolve some standards of evidence for sports writing and publicize them widely. The coverage might even start to look fair.

    Marcus, I’m posting this on your blog because Inman seems to be a hit and drun driver. I think you are doing a super job and if you and Steinmetz weren’t the Bay area would have nothing even approaching something worthy of the name journalism when its comes to covering the Warriors.