Here was the question to Monta Ellis after the Christmas Day game:
“What are you thinking when the crowd is chanting “M!-V!-P!”?
“When I’m on the free throw line, I don’t hear anything. I’m in my own l’il ol’ zone. I just want to win, that’s it.”
Wait. If you don’t hear anything, how do you know the MVP chants came when you were on the free throw line? Busted.
Of course Monta hears the chants, though for some reason he didn’t want to acknowledge hearing them. An applausable attempt at humility, I guess. The most important part is that he continues to play like an MVP candidate. No, he’s not actually a candidate for MVP of the league.
SMART: “He’s doing the job that’s necessary for a player like him who can do so many things for his team. He’s our MVP. He’s moving up into that select group of players in the NBA that play at a high level every night. And that’s what he’s done.”
DAVID LEE: “(Ellis) is the best player I’ve ever played with. He’s playing great, but he’s not out there hogging the ball, taking bad shots. He’s getting to the rack. He’s taking good, uncontested shots. And when he’s double-teamed, he’s finding other guys for easy plays.”
The Warriors finished with 28 fast break points on Saturday, twice as many as Portland. Over the last three games, the Warriors have totaled 90 fast-break points.
It looks like the Warriors are back to running after walking the ball up so much most of the first 26 games.
SMART: “I think the one thing that is glaring for us right now is the fact that we are pushing up the numbers in our transition game. We’re getting to that point where we can start running, but the defense created those opportunities for us.”
It’s not always pretty. Sometimes, the Warriors look downright clumsy on the break. Unless Monta Ellis is gliding to the cup, or it’s a break-away created by a steal, a turnover sometimes seems more likely than a basket. But, at this point, actually pushing the tempo and getting out on the break is as important as successfully executing one.
Saturday, the Warriors had nine fast-break points in the fourth quarter, all created by their defense.
DORELL WRIGHT: “We’re out really running now. We’re getting in the passing lanes, we’re getting steals, we’re getting easy baskets. And that’s key. When you get easy baskets, that makes the game a whole lot easier. … We’re getting the ball up the floor, we’re playing together and we’re feeling good right now.”
Rookie big man Ekpe Udoh impressed again. He played just over 16 minutes, and he finished with four points, a rebound, an assist and three blocks. His two baskets came in the fourth quarter, and they came out of post-ups. At the 10:31 mark, he dropped in a jump hook from close range. Then at the 6:48 mark, he nailed a turnaround 12-footer.
SMART: “He’s moving up the charts fast. He’s definitely moving up. He has to get himself into good NBA shape and the only way that can happen is in the games. But you’ve seen some flashes that are happening with this kid. You see that he’s doing some nice things with his back to the basket as a post-up player. People said he couldn’t do that, but we had to develop that. … He’s getting more and more comfortable in that setting.”
Udoh also played great defense on Portland big man LaMarcus Aldridge. His footwork, his anticipation and his leverage all shows he knows what he’s doing on that end.
Brandan Wright was available but did not get off the bench. With the rise of Udoh and a healthy Lou Amundson and Andris Biedrins, he won’t be getting many minutes. That won’t be good for his trade value