Game story for tomorrow’s paper
The Warriors’ starting back court broke out of their slump Thursday. Guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry combined for 62 points on 45 shots and six steals, leading Golden State to a comfortable 119-101 win over the Utah Jazz.
On top of that, the Warriors’ back court had some help. Forward David Lee overcame a 2-for-12 start and finished with 23 points. He was a big reason Golden State racked up 71 second-half points, tying the mark for most points in a half by any team this season.
“We played Warriors basketball,” Ellis said.
The Warriors registered their first two-game winning streak since knocking off Detroit and Cleveland in mid-January. With two days off before a heading to Sacramento, the Warriors are in position for their first winning streak of the season. Having won three of its last four,Golden State finishes with a split of the six-game home stand.
Of course, the Warriors got a big break from Utah, which played without its three top guards. Starting point guard Devin Harris (strained left hamstring), back-up point guard Earl Watson (sprained left ankle) and defensive specialist Raja Bell (strained right abductor) all were out.
With no Bell to harass him, Ellis exploded up 33 points on 13 of 21 shooting. It was the most Ellis has scored since totaling 38 at San Antonio on Jan. 4 and his first 30-point game since he scored 30 at New Jersey on Jan. 18. It was a far cry from the Ellis that had been showing up at Oracle Arena, who over his last three games had totaled 29 points on 12 for 43 shooting (27.9 percent).
Facing Utah’s third-string point guard in Jamaal Tinsley, Curry racked up 29 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals. Curry managed just three points his last time out. Over the last two contests he’d totaled 18 points and had missed 8 of his last 10 3-pointers entering Thursday.
“They are a dynamic back court that can score and, at their best, I would put them against anyone in the game,” coach Mark Jackson said. “We know what they are capable of doing and the challenge to them is not to tease us.”
Lee totaled 14 boards, including eight of the Warriors’ 22 offensive rebounds. He and center Andris Biedrins (nine rebounds) helped the Warriors win the battle of the boards 47-43.
Lee and Ellis combined for 29 points in the third quarter as the Warriors turned a two-point half-point lead into an 88-77 advantage entering the fourth quarter, capped by an Ellis 3-pointer.
“We let them get into an uptempo game in the third quarter,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. “They were more aggressive and we didn’t handle the situations well. They got running starts, made open shots and they feed off that. That’s exactly what happened. They hit one, they hit two and they got a run going.”
Golden State was rolling offensively – 62.5 percent shooting in the third quarter, 11 assists on 15 baskets in the third quarter – it didn’t matter thatUtah’s Al Jefferson had gotten going. He scored 10 of his 19 in the third.
Curry then scored 13 points in the fourth quarter as Golden State pulled away, building a lead as large as 23 points — their largest lead of the season.
“We had some rhythm,” Curry said. “We found some sets that we could really exploit … We got some stops and got out in transition where we used our speed. That’s where we’re at our best.”
*Golden State turned the ball over just eight times, its second-consecutive game with single-digit turnovers. In wins over Sacramento and Utah, the Warriors totaled 49 assists and 16 turnovers.
*Jackson said he hasn’t even thought about changing his starting lineup, despite the effectiveness of the bench.
He said the only player who would warrant consideration is swingman Brandon Rush.
“He’s been consistent from Day 1,” Jackson said. “And Dorell (Wright) early on struggled, so that could’ve been a realistic call even though I did not do it. Dorell has since played much better.Brandoncontinues to be consistent, playing great in his role. It never crossed my mind.”
Jackson said there is no way he tinkers with his backcourt. Which leaves the only other places he could make a move is power forward or center. But he said no player has played “consistently enough for me to even entertain it.”
* With both point guards out, Utah started Jamaal Tinsley on Thursday. He finished with nine points, 13 assists and six rebounds in just over 34 minutes. It was his first start since Nov. 30, 2009 when he was with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Tinsley played his first seven years with Indiana, where he was the primary starter since his rookie season. Tinsley was waived by the Pacers after the 2008-09 season. After a series of run-ins with the law, Indiana reluctantly reached a buyout with Tinsley, who was due nearly $15 million over the last two years of his deal. The Indianapolis Star reported he received $10.7 million to walk away.
In November 2009, he signed with Memphis where he averaged 7.8 minutes in 38 appearances. He didn’t land with anyone for the 2010-11 season and sat out the entire year. Deciding to return to basketball, he joined the NBA Development League and was selected No. 1 overall by the Los Angeles D-Fenders. He started all eight games he played – averaging 9.9 points, 7.6 assists and 2.4 steals in 34.1 minutes – before being picked up by Utah on Dec. 10.
Prior to starting Thursday, Tinsley had appeared in nine games forUtah, totaling four points and eight assists in 45 minutes.
“He’s worked his tail off,” Corbin said. “I feel very good about putting him in. … the greatest thing about him, he’s always involved in what we’re doing – even if he’s not playing. He’s always really paying attention. He’s saying the right things in the locker room”
* The Warriors will commemorate a storied Warriors era with the Run TMC Bobblehead Series. The first 10,000 fans will receive a bobblehead doll of Tim Hardaway on Feb. 13 vs. Phoenix. On March 7 vs. Memphisis Mitch Richmond Bobblehead Night.
Hall of Famer Chris Mullin’s bobblehead will be given out on March 19 vs.Minnesota, the same night his No. 17 jersey will be retired.