Game story from tomorrow’s paper
You might’ve expected Warriors guard Monta Ellis, who learned Thursday he was not selected as an All-Star reserve, to have one of his captivating performances. You know, prove they were wrong.
Instead, the captivating performance was provided by his backcourt mate Stephen Curry.
The Warriors’ third-year point guard finished with 36 points in Golden State’s 109-101 win over Denver. He was 13 of 17 shooting and had seven assists, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal with just one turnover. Golden State (9-14) snapped a two-game losing streak and got a much-needed road victory.
“You can rave about the shooting, rave about the points,” coach Mark Jackson said of Curry, “but he played the game tonight like he was in total control. … His stat line is a thing of beauty.”
With back-to-back positive performances, including Tuesday’s thrilling loss to Oklahoma City, Golden State is feeling good about their play.
Certainly, the Warriors were playing against a struggling Nuggets squad, which has now lost five straight.Denver(15-12) was missing two starters, including forward Danilo Gallinari, arguably the Nuggets’ best player. Plus, Denver was playing its second game in as many nights.
Golden State took advantage. The Warriors held Denver around 40 percent shooting most of the game. More important, Golden State outrebounded the Nuggets (41-39) and held them to eight offensive boards.
What’s more, the Warriors had 14 blocks, five by reserve big man Ekpe Udoh.
“Ekpe did an unbelievable job,” said forward David Lee, who with center Andris Biedrins combined for 16 rebounds. “He set the tone. But the biggest thing was when they drove in the second half, we had bodies there and we had guys helping the helper. … It was good that we got stops tonight.”
The Warriors didn’t start as well as they finished, however. Golden State trailed 51-47 at the half and Jackson was not happy with his club’s energy and effort. At half time, he pulled out the film and watched some clips, pointing out their shortcomings.
“Coach ripped us at halftime about our effort,” Curry said. “He got into us.”
It worked. In the third quarter, the Warriors stepped on the gas and pulled away from the Nuggets. And Curry was driving.
A 24-5 run to open the quarter seized control of the game for Golden State. The end of the run detailed how Curry dominated the game. He rebounding a missed 3-pointer by Denver’s Rudy Fernandez, pushed the ball and found Dorell Wright for an open 3-pointer. The next trip down, Curry converted a nifty left-hand layup.
After he corralled another rebound on the ensuing defensive series, Curry capped the Warriors’ run with a 3-pointer from the right wing. Golden State led 71-56 with just over five minutes left in the third.
The Warriors outscored Denver37-20 in the third quarter and took an 84-71 lead into the fourth quarter. Golden State eventually went up by 20 and led 105-85 when Jackson finally pulled the starters.
“We responded,”Jackson said. “I’ve got to give my guys credit. They came out on a mission on both sides of the basketball. We knew (Denver) was going to come in looking to get right. My guys responded. … This was a great win for us.”
Three guards from the Western Conference were selected as reserves for the 2012 All-Star Game. Ellis was not one of them.
“He deserved it, I think, for the third straight year,” Curry said. “If he would have made it, no one would’ve said he was undeserving. I’m sure it would’ve meant a lot to him to be selected to be an All-Star, but it won’t affect his play.”
Ellis is averaging 22.6 points and is on pace for a career-high with 6.3 assists. But his team entered Thursday in the bottom rung of the Western Conference. Ellis had better numbers the previous two years, but didn’t get in largely because of the Warriors’ losing record.
With the Warriors still losing, and Ellis’ not as mind-blowing as they’ve been, his chances of making it this year figured to be slimmer.
Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook, having a stellar season for one of the league’s best teams, was a virtual lock to be named a reserve. The other two spots went to a pair of highly respected guards: Spurs point guard Tony Parker and Suns point guard Steve Nash.
Parker is having a usually solid year (18.9 points and 7.7 assists), but it’s for a Spurs team that has the second-best record in the West. Like Ellis, Nash — averaging 15.1 points and 10 assists – is leading a sub .500 team. However, he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer with a great reputation.
“Don’t care,” Ellis said about being left off the All-Star team. “Don’t care. Different year, same thing.”
Perhaps the real snub, at least toJackson, wasn’t Ellis but rookie swingman Klay Thompson. Thursday, Thompson set a career-high with 19 points in 18 minutes.
“I’m still baffled that Klay Thompson is not in the Rookies vs. Sophomores game,”Jacksonsaid. “What you saw Thursday is not a (performance) we’re shocked at. You can’t show me (nine) rookies better than him.”
The talk in the locker room after the game revolved around a surprising development at the 5:11 mark of the third quarter. Curry, after making his fifth 3-pointer, turned towards the Warriors bench, knelt a tad and gave a shimmy.
Was it a tribute to his coach, who was known for giving shimmies in his day? Was he falling and did something to play it off?
“I don’t know what got into me,” Curry said. “I looked toward coach and saw him. We had joked about it earlier how that was his thing. … I’m scared to look at (the video).”
Judging by the reaction of his teammates, he should be scared.
“He needs to keep that in the 80s,” forward Dorell Wright shouted.
Said Lee: “That was ugly when coachJacksondid it and it was ugly when Steph did it.”
Curry said it was likely the first and last time he would do it. It appears his coach hopes that’s the case.
“I tried told in my laugh and stay in coach mode,”Jacksonsaid. “Now I know why my dad told me to stop doing it.”
Warriors guard Nate Robinson returned to action. He missed Tuesday’s loss toOklahoma Citybecause of a strained left groin.
He had five points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 11 minutes.
Brandon Rush was 1-for-2 from 3-point range Thursday. He’s now knocked down at least one 3-pointer in 14 straight games, a career-high streak.
In 2010, while with the Pacers, Rush made a 3-pointer in 13 straight, between Jan. 22 and Feb. 20.
Curry missed three free throws Thursday night. That makes him 21 for 27 this season, 77.8 percent.
He entered the season a career 91.1 percent shooter. What gives?
As the best free throw shooter, Curry gets to shoot the technical fouls. But he’s even missed a couple of those, including one Thursday.
“I don’t know,” Curry said. “I’m doing everything the same. They just not going in. But at least I’m getting to the line to miss them. I think I just need to get into a rhythm. They might revoke my technical foul license until I get it back.”