Another thriller between Denver and the Warriors. Certainly, Denver is a better team with better players. Certainly, Chauncey Billups was playing on a whole other level, making up for an off night by Carmelo Anthony. Certainly, Denver’s big men had a mismatch against the depeleted Warriors first line, which featured two legitimate big men, size wise, in center Andris Biedrins and D-League call-up Anthony Tolliver.
Still, with that being said, they should’ve won that game. But Monta Ellis, Don Nelson and Stephen Curry dropped the ball late.
CURRY: “It’s tough, you give all that effort, you play that hard the whole game and you have it in your hands and you want to walk away with that win, at home, especially. It’s tough for us, but we have a back-to-back Friday and Saturday, so we have a chance to continue the momentum we have and try and get two wins.”
By the way, guard Anthony Morrow won’t be back Friday, as the team suggested was possible with its 1 to 2 week diagnosis. Two weeks was always the realistic minimum. He did say he will be back and healthy in plenty of time to compete in the 3-point Shootout. He hasn’t heard from the league office yet (which is not a good sign, if you ask me). But he wants it to be known that he still wants to compete and still thinks he could win it. This sprained knee will not deter him.
Not sure if Ellis’ shortcomings, lowlighted by his missed free throw late, is his fault. He’s being run into the ground. He’s played three straight complete games, including overtime. He’s averaging 46.2 minutes for January. You almost have to expect things like missed free throws, settling for the 3-point shot too often, or loafing on defense. Ellis is a world-class athlete, but this is even too much for him. He’s got to survive somehow, and no question he is not at his peak down the stretch.
Gotta wonder how all these minutes in this lost season will impact Ellis towards the end of his contract. Remember Baron played every game his first three years or whatever?
ELLIS: “I feel great, feel good. Great game… left it all on the court.”
His machismo is getting the better of him. Nellie is never going to sit him. Ellis needs to ask for a rest, which he won’t do. Instead, he just won’t practice ever again.
Nellie’s philosophy of not calling a timeout came back to haunt the Warriors. Again.
Warriors had the ball down 3 with 22.1 seconds left. Instead of calling a timeout to set something up — like he did at the end of the fourth when they ran the play to free up Ellis for a 3, tying the game at 105 — Nellie had Ellis push it and make something happen.
Here’s the thing about timeouts. They bring order to the chaos that is the final seconds of a close NBA game. They allow you to put in the proper personnel. They give players a chance to breathe and re-focus for this critical possession. It allows the coach to run a play that has been practiced instead of trying to catch the defense off guard.
See, when you don’t call timeout, the guy open in the corner for the game-tying 3 is a D-League call-up who is 0-for-6 from 3-point range since being called up a few days ago. If you call a timeout, you can put Devean George back in the game and maybe he is open in the corner. Or, better yet, you can run another play to get Ellis or Curry a look.
Instead, Anthony Tolliver airballed.
ELLIS: “We’re all NBA players. Everybody is here for a reason. … Coach says if you’re open, shoot it.”
Warriors got a tough decision to make on Cartier Martin, who got his second 10-day contract Wednesday.
The Warriors have two options after Jan. 29. Option 1: Let Martin go and risk another team picking up the player they’ve eyed for a while. Option 2: Sign him for the rest of the season and give away one of their assets.
MARTIN: “I don’t really know what’s going to happen until it happens.”
The problem with option No. 1 is that the Warriors like Martin. But do the Warriors like him enough to give away a valuable asset, especially one they could use before the Feb. 18 trade deadline?
Cutting Speedy or Raja Bell is out. Obviously they won’t cut Watson or Morrow. That leaves Chris Hunter or Devean George. But even George’s $1.6 million expiring contract could come in handy on the market, especially when coupled with Claxton or Bell’s expiring contract.
The leaves the safest option for keeping Martin would be to cut Hunter. I know, I know. They just signed Hunter on for the rest of the year. Well, that would only be about a $200,000 mistake.
Or, the Warriors can waive Martin and hope no one picks him up, leaving him free to re-sign after the trade deadline. That way, they will have used the expiring contracts they are going to use. Or Martin could decide not to sign with any other team until then, if he wants to stay with the Warriors.
The optimum option, and I forgot to mention this in my story in today’s paper, is making a trade that gives them back at least one fewer player than they gave up. That would free up a roster spot without costing the Warriors anything.
Ellis said the stuff about his ankle, which he said was causing him pain at shootaround, was overblown. He put to rest any fears that his surgically repaired ankle was acting up. He said the metal plate in his left ankle, mixed with the rain, was giving him discomfort.
Some of y’all out there know about that. How your knee hurts when it rains, or your elbow feels funny when it gets too cold. There is an explanation. Something to do with fluid in joints and change in environment. Whatever. Ellis insists he’s fine. Which 53 minutes of action supports.