The results are in from guard Monta Ellis’ examination. He had an X-Ray and CT scan and was diagnosed with a strained lower back.
He is leaving Toronto to rejoin the team today in New York. He is officially listed as day-to-day, which if accurate is a lot sooner than it appeared he would be out on Monday.
Ellis took a nasty spill late in the fourth quarter. He went up for a lay-up with two hands and, after colliding with a Raptors player in the air, landed awkwardly and wrenched his back.
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.”
On the first day of training camp, head coach Keith Smart made a pact with his players. He sealed it with a handshake from each player.
ANDRIS BIEDRINS: “I was thinking, ‘Shake his hands or not?’ (laugh) He was like holding (his hand out), holding, holding. Finally I was like ‘OK.’ “
What was the pact? Basically, that they don’t take anything personal. Smart said he wanted to make it clear in advance that when he gets on them, he isn’t trying to dog them out, but trying to make them better. He wanted their approval to be hard on them at times without it becoming an issue, to challenge them without it turning into anything more.
That agreement was challenged in Friday’s win over Utah. During the timeout, at the 2:49 mark of the second quarter, Smart could be seen barking at his $80 million power forward, who then barked back.
KEITH SMART: “At times when you’re not doing what you need, I’m going to let you know. But also know that I don’t hang on to anything. It’s over. He was supposed to do something, and he didn’t do it.”