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Ellis dominates; Curry re-sprains ankle; and Don’t Sleep on Rodney Carney

Wednesday’s season opener was all about Monta Ellis, who just turned 25 on Tuesday. He torched the Rockets for 46 points while missing just six shots. That tied his career high, which he set last season, in February, at the Dallas Mavericks. 

ELLIS: “It was just one of those games were shots were going in early on and they just kept falling.”

Ellis was as smooth and as efficient as you’ve ever seen him. Jumper was falling, he finished just about everything, took good shots, took care of the ball (1 TO in 40 minutes).

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And it wasn’t just that he was hot. He was clearly the best player on the court. (Well, Luis Scola did look all-world against the Warriors’ defense.) Can he do it every night? Can he be this efficient more times than not? That remains to be seen. But on this night, Ellis was an elite player. He was the guy that gives other teams fits, the guy who when he’s on the court, you like your chances.

I’m not just saying that. Here is some context:

* Ellis’ 46 was the most on opening night since Michael Jordan scored 54 on visiting Cleveland on Nov. 3, 1989. It’s the most by any Warrior on opening night since Wilt Chamberlain scored 56 vs. Detroit on Oct. 23, 1962. 

* The last Warrior to score at least 40 on opening night was Latrell Sprewell, who had 45 at Houston on Oct. 31, 1997.

* Wednesday was Ellis’ fifth career game with at least 40. He also tied a career-high with 18 field goals.

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KEITH SMART: “At halftime he was 10-for-13 and he was scoring in an efficient way. He’s not wanting to have the ball in his hand a lot, but he’s taking shots in the area where he shot the ball from a couple of years ago, the mid-range pull-up. He’s just got to understand that he has a unique skill where he can shoot the three, he can put it on the floor for the mid-range pull-up, and you can get to the rim.”

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Despite a sore right ankle, Steph Curry played 39 minutes Wednesday. He finished with 25 points and 11 assists, the 13th double-double of his career. He also played pretty good defense on Rockets speedy point guard Aaron Brooks, who I thought would give the Warriors fits (Brooks had 13 points on 4-for-15 shooting with 7 assists).

But Curry said his performance was more a product of him gutting it out. Especially the fourth quarter, since he re-sprained his ankle late in the third.

CURRY: “It’s still sore. I took a couple Tylenol. But the adrenalin kicked right back in and I was able to go out there play through it. Like Brett Favre.”

Curry twisted his right ankle in an exhibition game last Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers in San Diego. He sat out the rest of the preseason, including the final three practices. Still, he played the first 13 minutes of the game.

Keith Smart gave Curry a seven-plus minutes rest in the second quarter. But when he returned in the third, giving Ellis a rest, Curry took over. He totaled 12 points and four assists in the quarter. He was looking for his shot and breaking down the Rockets defense by getting into the lane. 

ELLIS: “That’s what he has to do. I mean, we have to work off each other. They were playing us a little different. Coach ran a play for us and they picked up what we were doing. Then Curry noticed what (the Rockets) were doing (defensively). That’s what he has to do. When I am going like that and come out of the game, and he’s in the game, he has to make offensive plays like he did tonight.”

But then, towards the end of the quarter, he had a setback. He pump faked on a 3-pointer to get Brooks in the air. Curry, trying to draw a foul on Brooks, leaned in as he hoisted a 3. Brooks landed on top of him, and Curry rolled that ankle again, the same way, he said.

He got up hobbling and took the long route to the free throw line to walk it off 

DAVID LEE: “I was a little concerned when he re-injured it. But sometimes, all it takes is to get out there and get back on it.”

Curry played the final 10:38 of the fourth quarter and had seven points and four assists in the period. After the game, he said his ankle was sore and he rushed through his media interviews to get treatment. 

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Wednesday’s victor snapped a four-game losing streak for the Warriors on opening nigt. Golden State’s last season-opening victory was in 2005. Under Mike Montgomery, the Warriors beat the Hawks 122-97 on Nov. 2. 

ELLIS: “It’s a relief. We’ve been going through preseason and training camp for this moment right here. To get the first win to start the season off in the right direction, it says a lot.”

Curry did have 5 turnovers, continue an alarming rate of turnovers from the preseason. But – before he got to view the film, which is his specialty – Smart didn’t seem to mind Curry’s miscues. He actually praised Curry for taking care of the ball.

Maybe it was because Curry didn’t get any of those turnovers trying to thread needles or with carefree ball-handling or trying to make a fancy play. 

SMART: “He took care of the ball, didn’t have the careless turnovers. As I said during preseason, I’m not worried about Steph. He’s a smart player. He’s going to figure stuff out. I have to keep him actively engaged in the game and not settle for being a passer, because there is so much he can do for the team.”

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Check out these free throw numbers:

Houston: 42-for-52 (Kevin Martin 17-for-17; Luis Scola 8-for-12; Courtney Lee 9-for-9)

Warriors: 22-for-26 (Ellis 9-for-12) 

50 personal fouls were called.

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Warriors outrebounded Houston 45-39. That was largely due to David Lee’s 15 boards and Andris Biedrins’ 11. Houston did outscore the Warriors in second-chance points (21-18), which kept the Warriors from pulling away. But the Warriors look much better crashing the boards this year. Lee really gobbles them up, and Biedrins looks as active as ever. 

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You know who looked pretty good in his 17 minutes – Rodney Carney. He’s a pretty good defender. That block was all ball, but the fact that he was able to make a play on that was pretty impressive.

His footwork, his instinct on that end, showed some promise. He finished with 8 points and 4 rebounds. Had he knocked down a couple of his 3-pointers (0-for-3), it would’ve been a pretty rousing debut. He definitely looked like a reliable reserve out there, someone who is going to bring something to the table.

Marcus Thompson

  • chris gatlings soul

    Agree about Carney, as long as he play’s within himself, i don’t think he’s a good 3 shooter, so i cringed when he took those open 3s. Not a good feel to his shot, but his hustle was all there.

    Dwright impressed me but once the scouting report gets out that he cleverly uses the pump fake he will have to out clever the D.

    Dlee and Goose did their thing, and Dlee is a clever passer.

    Monta and Steph, Butta

  • David Barnes

    Thanks as always MT!
    Very nice home opener and it was wonderful watch Monta get almost all of those points in the flow of the game. Thought Dorell Wright had a nice game albeit a quiet one and I was very impressed with this stroke from 3. He gets it off easy and smooth. Also think this is a team that is going to feed and feed off of the crowd. Much fun. And props to the Arena for having the world series on the big screen. It was fun getting there early and then having the place fill in and get louder and louder. While I wish it was the A’s, that appears to be a longer time away then the Dubs in the playoffs.

  • Hook Mitchell

    Always liked Rodney carney skill set.
    Energy off the bench. Can spread the floor even tho his shot is inconsistent at times.

    Monta not scoring 40pts every game. But let’s hope Dre and Lee can combine for over 20rebs each game.

    That would really help.

    I agree with coach smart. I don’t worry about curry on the court.
    He smart enough oT figure out his mistakes.
    Especially his tendency to be careless with the ball.

  • otis

    Ellis is the story.
    Absolutely dominant.
    Who can cover him? I mean really?
    And if you double him we’ve got Curry and Lee.
    Now if we could only get some stops.

  • Mr Mully

    Thanks for the recap MT2. Great way to start the season. Monta looks All-World, Steph looks like an elite PG sore ankle and all, Beans is back to a hustling double double machine and last line of defense, DLee looks like a reliable scorer/rebounder but atrocious defender, and DW can hit the open shot.

    Our bench looked better than advertised with RW, BW, and Carney providing solid contributions. Let’s just ignore the Vlad at 5 debacle.

    Anyways great start with Curry and Beans helping me sit atop MT’s Fantasy League. Being an extreme homer pays off!!!

  • some guy

    Besides (on the TO front), one was really Brandan Wright’s fault for not looking for the ball for some odd reason (maybe he thought it was a shot?) and another two should have been scored as Monta’s – the Chuck Hayes pick of Curry would have been out of bounce on the Rockets had not Monta touched the deflection and even though another pass was errant, Lee managed to deflect it to Monta who fumbled it out of bounce.

    Oddly, Monta threw an errant pass to Dorell Wright in the 1st or 2nd (when he was running point) and they scored it as a TO for Wright even though he had to stretch out just to get a hand on it and in no way could have caught that pass.

    It seems the Warriors scorekeeper is making it a point to not reward TO’s to Monta whenever possible. The scorekeeper was also very generous with assists (much like the Hornets scorekeeper).

  • sfhand

    Thanks Marcus… I like your take on the game. I was a little concerned about the dubs after watching as much of them as I could in pre-season. They looked much better last night – much better spacing and more cohesion. Hopefully coach Smart will go over the film with Lee and he can see where he’s coming up short on D (not taking anything away from Scola; he plays a very good game).

    Now I’ve got to wonder, if they weren’t getting any calls at home what will it look like on the road? If they continue to have success, will the refs start swallowing those whistles?

  • dubfan

    I said a week ago that I think the magic number for the Warriors is 60, 20 and 15, which represents the combined average per game of points, rebounds and assists from Ellis, Curry and D. Wright. I think if any team has a core of 3 players who can consistently achieve this statistical line, that has got to be a competitive team. Last night: 88, 20 and 19. Okay…the 88 is an aberration…Monta is not going to score 46 every night, and Curry probably will not score 25 either (though he might…), but Lee will also probably get more than 17. The rebounds and assists? They should be right there. This is a team with firepower, and now little bit more size and rebounding up front. Curry and Ellis may be a small backcourt, but they may also be the most compelling and dynamic backcourt in basketball.

    Sure, it is just one game, but there are signs of life!

  • TownLove

    The debut was good and bad. Great to get a win, but also a depressing reminder that this team still has a way to go and needs to add some more pieces to become a legit force.

  • R Barry

    Lucky win for the W’s. Monta’s big night took it over the top. W’s focus on D this year? Didn’t see any of it, Houston’s pick and roll was deadly, too many layups. W’s guards looked like they were chasing all night long. Big contrast in offensive sets, Rockets set plays resulted in open shots and layups, W’s set plays focus more on shots from 12 to 20 ft. out.

  • fillmoemike

    great win versus a very underrated rockets team

  • WheresMyChippy

    Some Guy, I don’t think any scorekeeper can rival the generosity of whoever is in charge in NO.

  • Dr. Awesome

    Steph Curry taking TYLENOL?! MT2, please tell him Tylenol’s are not safe! They have been RECALLED AGAIN!

    Oh yeah, GO GIANTS! GO MONTA! (F U HATERS, WHERE U AT) GO WARRIORS! It’s good to be a Bay Area sports fan :)

  • http://chriscohansucks.blogspot.com/ Chris Cohan

    Carney was meaningless.
    Email complaints to joelacobsucks@gmail.com

  • Tdubb

    First it’s only game #1, Houston’s second night back to back and no Yao. I’ll take the win. Monta was awesome and clearly the best player on the floor all night and Curry, Lee, Andris, D Wright were solid.

    It is the bench, it needs help. I can live with Carney (good defender), Williams (role needs to be defined), B Wright (talented but soft, needs some nasty), Mark my words Jeff Adrien will take his spot! Scola pushed and moved bodies to easy.

    My original point is that the bench needs a scorer, a create his on offense impact guy. Vlade can go, Bell is not the answer he’s using Williams minutes.
    There are expiring contracts on that bench, use them for a piece. Fix it Mr Riley, fix it and these guys my have a shot at 40 wins.

    Last point, Keith Smart played every guy that suited up last night and it wasn’t a blowout. Tell me the last time that happened? Let the “Smart Era” or should I say “Genius”, oh that was Nelly, NOT! :) begin.

  • deano

    Keith Smart’s biggest roster problem is finding subs worthy of filling the 25 to 30 minutes a night that Biedrins and/or Lee will be off the floor. Right now there is no back-up Center (do not use the “G” word) and only a weak sub in Brandon Wright at PF. I would like to see Smart give big minutes to Jeff Adrien. He rebounds at a Mr. Mean rate of about one per minute. That should be enough to earn him a serious look.

  • http://Yahoo Petey B

    Thanks Marcus!
    I really enjoy watching the starting 5, but aside from Reggie, I cringe when Smart puts in any of the Warriors subs.

    I think our bench is bad… Really bad. One more injury and we’ll really suck, bad.

    Should Carney really be shooting any 3′s?

    We sure could use Amundson/Ekpe right about now.

    I hope we get something good for VladRad, Gadzuric, and Brandan Wright. Riley needs to earn his keep and make it rain.

    I’m happy Smart got his 1st win of the season, but beating Houston less Yao at home at the end of a back to back doesn’t impress me much.

    Go Warriors!!!