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Ellis was a Beast on Both Ends; Curry Burns Brace; Reggie Rides Pine

The maturity of Monta Ellis was on display last night, before he went down with a lower back injury.

He’s still unable to keep his emotions off his face, so it was obvious when he was frustrated. On a couple of occasions, Stephen Curry came down and took a forced shot, or the one time David Lee lost the ball trying to dribble around his back, or when Jeremy Lin was wide left with a pass to Monta,
But Ellis could literally be seen taking a deep breath, biting his lip and keeping his composure. Not once did I see him walk to the bench screaming at his teammates, or pout off to the side.

During one third-quarter sequence, the Warriors went about five possessions without him getting a touch. What’s more, three of them were turnovers and each time, Ellis was the one hustling back on defense.

Once, Ellis was streaking down the left side on a break, but Curry’s pass was behind him and deflected. In the past, Ellis would have certainly through a mini temper tantrum and given up on the play. This time, he chased down the losse ball, outhustling a Raptor, and fed David Lee under the basket. Lee was fouled and made the two free throws.

He perhaps gambled too much and reached too much. But at times when things were going badly, he was clearly locked in on the defensive end.
Nobody played with more defensive intensity than Ellis on Monday.

KEITH SMART: “That’s what the good players do and that’s what he’s doing. He’s proving himself to be as good as he said he wanted to be. And that’s what he’s doing with the way he’s playing, the way he’s approaching the game, the way he’s competing.”

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Curry finally got fed up with the brace and took it off near the end of the first quarter Monday. The same brace he’s worn for about a week, protecting his ankle, Curry said was simply too limiting on his ability to manuever.

So he got rid of it. Happily. In the imaginary furnace in the athletic training room.

CURRY: “I just opened it and threw it in. Smoke coming out the top of Air Canada Centre from my brace. … I just feel more free. My ankle is in good shape right now, but the brace is too restricting.”

Curry promised early he wouldn’t be wearing the brace come December. But it turns out he was able to safely shuck it sooner. He had a slight scare after landing on a camera man after a lay-up. But it’s safe to say he performed well without the brace: 34 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Curry was able to literally take over the game in the fourth quarter, and he did it in a way that showed his ankle is much improved. He made a couple of tough driving lay-ups in traffic, including a pirouette in the lane that he scooped in off the glass. He also iced the game with a cross-over dribble that led to a pull-up jumper.

Curry finished with 16 in the fourth. It was a drastic turnaround from the multitude of poor decisions he made passing the ball, which included five turnovers.

SMART: “He’s still in that growth cycle. … And maybe in a year, he will be up there with the Jason Kidds and guys like that, (Deron) Williams and (Chauncey) Billups, where they know how to manage a game. I have to be very, very patient with that so I have to deal with the bad.”

By the way, Curry’s missed break-away dunk at the end of the third, he said it was blocked by Leandro Barbosa at the end of the half. I didn’t see the replay from that play yet. But this is from the same guy who said he last injured his ankle when he stepped on Blake Griffin’s foot (I think he said his “heel glanced the top of his shoe lace) and not that he was crossed up by Eric Gordon.

CURRY: “He blocked it. I knew he was one of the fastest guys in the league. I thought if I laid it up, he would’ve gotten to it.”

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Guess who got more than 13 first-half minutes??? That’s right, Smart opted for Jeremy Lin in place of Curry, instead of swingman Reggie Williams, who had been playing point guard.

LIN: “I didn’t think he would call my name that early in the game. I wasn’t expecting it. But I was like, ‘All right. Let’s go do this, then. Once I got out there, it was a joy to be in the game again, get up and down.”

Guess who the first player off the bench was? In correct. It was not Vladimir Radmanovic, or Rodney Carney. It was Brandan Wright. Remember him?

Lin and Wright got significant minutes off the bench. Lin saw 15 minutes of legitimate action, and responded with three points, three assists, two steals and two blocks. One thing that stood out was his hustle on defense and his ability to get in the paint off the dribble.

LIN: “The more time I get, the more comfortable I get. I think I can definitely get to the rim at this level. I think I surprise a lot of people with my speed, my quickness. That’s just something I try to do. That’s just my style – to be aggressive and attack.”

Wright got 21 minutes after logging fewer than six minutes in Sunday’s loss at Detroit. At Toronto, Wright finished with eight points, five rebounds and two blocks.

Does that mean he’s in the rotation now? And Radmanovic, who saw just 6:17 on the court, is the odd man out? Nope. Smart said he is taking it game-by-game. Each night, the likelihood is someone who people think should be playing will end up riding the pine. From the sounds of it, Rodney Carney is the only reserve who you can ink in for consistent minutes off the bench. My gut says Reggie Williams will usually get time over Lin. But if Lin keeps impressing, who knows.

SMART: “We’re just playing basketball. I shared with the guys that I can’t look at getting guys minutes just to get him minutes. I’ve got to look at how the game is going and what I feel is right. I communicate that to them. To get a guy on the floor just to say he got on the floor, I can’t do it that way. … We’ve got a long NBA season. At some point, it’s going to be Reggie’s night again. He’s going to come back and have a great night. And now it’s going to be someone else you’re going to ask me a question about it.”

Rookie guard Jeremy
With Wright and Lin getting a nice chunk of minutes, Williams and forward Vladimir Radmanovic drew the short end of the stick Monday. Radmanovic did play all of his 6:17 in the forth quarter, coming up with a critical block when he charged out to defend a 3-point attempt in the final minute.

This is perfect. This was a coming out party for how he plays.

*******************

There is a new addition to the locker room spread. The fruit is there. The energy bars. The candy. But now, there’s a big jar of peanut butter. You will never guess who started the peanut better tradition. Actually, you might.

David Lee.

He said he eats a peanut butter on a bagel before every game. He’s now got Vladimir Radmanovic and Dan Gadzuric eating it too.

LEE: “That’s my only contribution to the team so far.”

That’s not true. Lee gets plenty rebounds. And Monday, he got some shots to fall. He finsied with 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting. He knocked down a couple of midrange jumpers, which was a welcomed sight.

Marcus Thompson

  • dubfan

    For those who still say that the Warrior’s backcourt is too small to be effective, I would challenge you to name ANY other backcourt in the league that could have a pair of 30 point games (okay, this technically was not one, as Monte “fell” just short, but close enuf). Nobody expects them to do 30/30 on a nightly basis, but 20 something/20 something should be typical, 30/30 occasionally. This is one of the best backcourts, if the THE best backcourts in the league…and getting better every day. Curry continues to live up to his billing and improving constantly, and on a bum ankle at that, and Monte is electric and unstoppable, and may have the quickest hands in the league.

  • deano

    MTII: Thanks for the update. It must be more enjoyable for you to write about GSW this season. It certainly is more enjoyable for me to watch them play. Your article today shows again that the players and the coach have good attitudes about the team.

    Larry Riley made great moves getting rid of Maggette and Randolph, and bringing in D Wright. Davisd Lee has been a good, though pricey addition. The proof is on the floor: this year’s squad plays better together and seems to be more supportive than in the last three years.

    I am very impressed with Keith Smart. He was the default choice to repalce Nelson because of the lateness of the move; but now he looks like a coach for the future. I particularly like that Smart uses his bench more than Nellie, allowing Monta and Curry to have enough energy to finish out games and keeping more of the roster involved in the season.

  • Kyle

    this team is easy to like right now. i hope they continue to make progress, but lots of good trends so far this year

  • CURSE OF MULLIN

    MTII: Nice entry but I don’t get your diss on Curry regarding how he sprained his ankle in the Clips game. The replay pretty clearly showed that his shoe caught the top of Griffin’s shoe and turned it over as it came down. I really don’t get your comment suggesting the cross-over was the cause.

  • Garrett

    I definitely like what Smart is doing by increasing the bench rotation on the road. I was impressed by Lin’s defense and also his speed. With his size he should be driving to the basket more often and eventually his shot will come to him. Whats wrong with a Lin and Williams combo coming off the bench, they must play beside each other in practice. They both have explosive speed ,can play defense , and can get to the basket. Plus Reggie is better when he can play off the ball, and Lin has to keep improving his point guard skill set. As these two guys get better, it will keep our starters in better shape, and make the dubs a stronger squad on the road as well as at home. Im loving the fact that smart’s taking the time to develop the bench on the road

    B Wright looked pretty good against the raptors (loved his block on johnson), I hope for the warriors sake he gets some more pt on the road, but I cant be mad if Dan Gadz plays in his place. B.Wright should be the choice to to backup lee so Vlad can get some time at small forward( I think he can score more points in that position and still be as effective on guarding perimeter players. Once Lou and Ekpe come back maybe…?

  • JustPuked

    @Dubsfan I love the Dubs backcourt, but there are others. The Wizards immediately come to mind. As John Wall acclimates to the league and Arenas comes back from his injuries that becomes one of the scariest back courts in the NBA.

    Nash & Richardson can still light it up for Phoenix. The Rockets have Brooks & Martin. Detroit has a trio of guards in Stuckey, Hamilton & Gordan that can catch on fire. The Hawks have Joe Johnson & Crawford. The Spurs can roll out Parker & Gionobli. Speaking of fearsome duo’s what what happens if Miami plays Wade/LeBron at the 1/2 interchangeably against Boston/Atlanta/Orlando? I digress…

    Statically, we’ve got the best backcourt duo and it’s fantastic, but the guards in Phoenix, Atlanta, San Antonio, and Miami all have track records of success in the playoffs, and at least half the duo does in Detroit & Houston. We don’t. The future looks bright, but we’re not there yet. But just in case I’ve already got a pair of sunglasses.

  • dubfan

    @justpuked (great name, by the way…). Point taken, and I think the only really legitimate pair there is Wall and Arenas. Lebron at the 2 is an occasional anomaly. He is a forward, not a guard. And who knows if and when Wall and Arenas can, or will co-exist enough to do this in the same game, though certainly the potential is there. I will agree that any of the pairs you mentioned have the potential, but very very rarely might you anticipate that it could, or will happen. I think the Ellis/Curry combo could roll it out 5-10 times a year…and they are both getting better every day.

    I hope to have to get those really dark sunglasses myself soon…

  • Bill

    briefly….Radmanovic is slow and a knucklehead…Brandan Wright will be gone either injured or traded before the end of the year….and his shot is too slow except for the Mr. Fantastic extendo hook….Lin helps but it also points out that Charlie Bell is nowhere….Gadzuric surprises me; he has good hustle but hands like Adonal Foyle…..Monta and Curry are wonderful and Carney is also a pleasant surprise….changes on the horizon when Admunsen returns and Udoh….

  • Hmmm

    “For those who still say that the Warrior’s backcourt is too small to be effective, I would challenge you to name ANY other backcourt in the league that could have a pair of 30 point games.”

    And how many points have they Curry allowed? I mean, look how Rodney Stuckey destroyed the Ws backcourt. And Jarrett Jack had a career offensive game last night. Also, Curry and Monta are so soft — both ALREADY have injuries that may nag them all year.

  • WetLunGz

    Not many back courts can get you 50 a night almost ever night…even if curry n monta d is bad I still don’t think they have been outscored all season long by opposing starting backcourts..

  • dubfan

    “And how many points have they Curry allowed? I mean, look how Rodney Stuckey destroyed the Ws backcourt. And Jarrett Jack had a career offensive game last night. Also, Curry and Monta are so soft — both ALREADY have injuries that may nag them all year.”

    I guess when a football player gets jacked, or when a baseball player runs into a wall, and they get injured, they too are “soft”…kind of ridiculous to call Monte soft. He took a spill, a very hard one, and may come back sooner than anyone would have thought. And how many points have been saved by both, and especially Monte by robbing the ballhandler blind with his DEFENSIVE hands. Defense is more than just guarding man to man. And I’ll take the offensive firepower any day of the week. As Wet says, they’re outscoring everyone they play anyhow.

  • AirplaneRider

    Monta isn’t soft, he’s just lazy. Got to be the laziest defender in the league.