Warriors guard Monta Ellis dribbled the ball through his legs a few times, right in front of the New York Knicks bench, giving his teammates time to clear out the right side of the court.
Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari was in front of him, but before he could squat into something remotely similar to a defensive position, Ellis had blown right by him. As he took off towards the rim, Knicks big man Amar’e Stoudemire hustled over to try to get a block. But Ellis kind of twisted right around Stoudemire, and gently dropped in a reverse finger roll over the front rim.
What back injury?
ELLIS: “I don’t think about it. I think about it after the game. When I’m out there, I just play basketball.”
If you ask me, Ellis shouldn’t have played. Back injuries are too serious and rest is the best medicine. But, then again, the Warriors don’t pay me $11 million a year. Nobody does.
So when Ellis said he could play, which he started telling to members of the organization first thing Wednesday morning, they certainly wasn’t going to tell him no. And he proved himself right, finishing with 22 points, six assists and four steals in 40:30 of action. No, he wasn’t his normal explosive self. He was 7-for-16 largely because he didn’t have quite the same lift on his jumper. But even at less than 100 percent, Ellis is quick and fast enough to get where he wants to on the court, and it helped him get to the free throw line 11 times.
STEPHEN CURRY: “It shows what we’re trying to do here. He sacrificed his body and his health. I’m sure if it were too bad, he would’ve been smart about it. But if he had any chance to play, he would push through it. He gave us great effort tonight. Hopefully, there won’t be any (ramifications) from coming back too soon. But he’s smart and he’s been through a lot, so he was ready.”
Ellis received treatment before the game. He had a heating pad and some massaging when he was on the bench. And he will likely rest and get treatment leading up to Thursday’s game at Chicago.
JEREMY LIN: “The heart that he plays with and his dedication to the team, we’re all thankful that he played.”
Once again, the Warriors came out balling in the third quarter. That was really the difference tonight. I highly doubt they withstand the Knicks’ rally had they not got up by as much as 19 points. The Warriors opened the half with a 25-10 run to take an 85-66 lead. Ellis scored nine points during the run.
The Warriors seem to have the third quarter figured out, at least the start of the third quarter. The lead was eventually down to eight by the start of the fourth quarter — NY got as close as four before Ellis and Reggie Williams closed the half with baskets — and eventually took the lead. But they had to do a lot of work to get back because the Warriors got out so far ahead. Everybody in the NBA makes a run. But the Warriors have learned to seize control of the game by attacking to start the third quarter.
With 2:09 left in the third, Lee grabbed a rebound and the inside of his left elbow caught Wilson Chandler in the mouth, knocking out Chandler’s front tooth. It dug a gash so deep in Lee’s arm, he had three layers of tape wrapped around his elbow and blow was still showing through. He got stitches after the game.
LEE: “Well I got the rebound and he was diving in to get the offensive rebound and his tooth dug in and sliced it open pretty good. I could actually see the bone coming out a little bit. So it probably requires a few stitches and I got to deal with the Knicks medical staff. I just wanted to hang out with them a little bit more. I haven’t seen them in a while.”
David Lee played the entire fourth quarter with his elbow wrapped with tape, three layers he said. But the blood was coming through like he was Curt Schilling or something.
CURRY: “David’s over there, still has a tooth in his elbow.”
Curry’s talking, but he was a bloody mess, too. They had to stop the game twice to stop his bleeding. The first time, Curry took a blow to the nose, turning on his scarlet faucet. The blood had dripped all on his chest and jersey and had to be cleaned off before he could return.
CURRY: “I tried to literally stick my nose in for an offensive rebound. I played for two minutes with it dripping.”
Judging by the stat sheet, forward Dorell Wright didn’t have a spectacular night. He had 15 points and 7 rebounds. Not bad. He was 5-for-11 shooting. Not terrible. But he had a huge impact on the win.
He closed out hard on Knicks’ shooters down the stretch, preventing what would have been wide-open looks down the stretch. Gallinari missed two open 3-pointers that would’ve really hurt and, if I remember correctly, Wright was the one putting a hand in his face. Also, Wright scored 10 in the fourth quarter, including a clutch 3-pointer to give the Warriors the lead back, 114-113, and kill the Knicks rally, and a minute later hustling for a put-back on Reggie Williams’ blocked fast-break layup.
SMART: “I thought Dorell Wright did an incredible job during one of the timeouts. He simply just spoke up real strong to our guys and said it’s going to happen on this end, the defensive end.”