Lots of praise for Monta Ellis on Wednesday night, and deservedly so. He had less help than Kobe Bryant did Wednesday, had much less rest than Kobe Bryant did, and he definitely is working with less size and skill. Yet, for most of the game, Monta outplayed Kobe.
After missing two practices with flu-like symptoms, and still in the final stages of illness, Ellis played the entire game, carried the offense and defended Kobe all the way through. He just ran out of gas. His effort did not go unnoticed, however. Kobe even said Ellis deserved an All-Star nod.
KOBE: “Absolutely. He is a fantastic player. Offensively, he’s complete. He can shoot the ball well, which is something he’s really improved on. He can get to the rim, obviously, and he has a mid-range game as well. So he’s really a complete offensive player.”
Before the game, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson lauded Ellis’ development as a scorer.
JACKSON: “When Monta became a shooter, besides being a driver, it elevated his game in a way which he became unstoppable on certain nights. His speed and quickness to the hoop is remarkable. His growth as a shooter has become apparent and his ability to play consistently – I know he’s been banged up recently and hasn’t felt well – but his ability to kind of a be a leader on the team has really helped him out.”
Then Monta went out and scored 38 points on 15-for-26 shooting. He knocked down 4 of 7 3-pointers, three from the corners and a clutch pull-up off a high-screen in the fourth quarter. After the game, Jackson offered more love, and some sympathy for a guy who didn’t get any rest.
JACKSON: “I see him a lot. I watch this team. I watch him play. Tonight was a special night for him. I think he really stepped his challenge up and he played Kobe pretty well until the end. Did he play 48 minutes or get a rest out there? It was a long night for him out there on the floor.”
With the struggles of center Andris Biedrins, many a fan has wondered how rookie big man Ekpe Udoh would look in that role.
Well, Udoh, for one, is certain he can start at center in the NBA. Just not right now.
UDOH: “One day. … The NBA game is crazy. It’s such a great game, I don’t think I would be ready to just hop in at that position yet.”
Udoh wasn’t even second string Wednesday. But coach Keith Smart said before the game he thought Udoh might get “bright-eyed” against the Lakers. Smart has expressed concern about Udoh going against veteran bigs for extended minutes. Smart said he wants to bring Udoh along slowly and doesn’t want him to get embarrassed on the court, which could hurt his coincidence confidence (I think I should stop posting from my iPhone! ha).
So Udoh got a DNP. Dan Gadzuric and Biedrins ate up the minutes at center against the Los Angeles Lakers’ sizeable frontline. It seems like the Warriors needed Udoh in the game.
Lakers big men Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom combined for 55 points and 34 rebounds. Udoh might’ve been a better deterrent for the Lakers inside scoring since he is the Warriors’ best shot-blocker (or maybe not, as Gasol is wiley and skilled, Bynum is a giant and Odom is a big man with SF skills). We know by now Udoh certainly had a better chance of scoring inside than Gadzuric and Biedrins. Udoh is already one of the Warriors’ better back-to-the-basket players — which he showed down the stretch in a loss at Orlando.
But one thing Udoh might not have helped with was rebounding. The Warriors were outrebounded 26-8 in the second half. Half of those were grabbed by Lee. Udoh is averaging 2.5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes.
UDOH: “I’ve got to pick up my rebounds,” Udoh said. “It’s something I’ve got to get better at. I’ve got to stay more in tune.”
Biedrins finished with two points, three rebounds, two turnovers and six fouls in 25 minutes.
Can anyone explain Vladimir Radmanovic? He played 18 minutes, scored 11 big points, two assists, a block. What has happened? He has become a super solid reserve. This is the same guy Nellie got nothing out of (and I agreed with Nellie).
Dorell Wright was 5 of 11 from 3-point range. He is shooting 42 percent from behind the arc and he leads the league in 3-pointers made with 103. Think he’ll get an invite to the 3-point shootout?
Wright said he wants to participate, but he doubts he’ll get the call. After he nearly won it last year, Curry, I think, will get another shot. Curry is shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range this year.