Game story for tomorrow’s paper
In a tight game where every basket was crucial, Warriors star guard Monta Ellis sat on the bench the entire fourth quarter while back-up guard Nate Robinson ran the show.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Ellis wasn’t feeling well. Nonetheless, the result was a 93-91 demoralizing loss to Portland.
“It really wasn’t a decision due to anything other than the fact he wasn’t feeling well all day long,” coach Mark Jackson said. “I almost sent him home … He’s a gamer, a leader and he stayed. … Give him credit, he gave me everything he had. … I just made a decision he was not 100 percent.”
Ellis’ backcourt mate, point guard Stephen Curry, was hardly lights out either. He had eight points on 3-for-10 shooting with eight assists. But he logged nearly nine fourth-quarter minutes but took just one shot.
Forward David Lee did have it rolling. He finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds in 40 minutes, his second consecutive 20-and-10 game. Playing his best basketball of the season, he now has a double-double in five straight home games.
But Lee took just two shots in the fourth quarter, none after his three-point play put the Warriors up 86-81 with 3:39 left.
Ellis, who declined to speak with media after the game, finished with 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting with five assists and two turnovers in 27 minutes. With Ellis on the bench the entire fourth quarter, Golden State went the final 2:49 without a field goal, scoring just three points on free throws.
The Warriors failed to capitalize on a vulnerable Portland squad, which was missing their best player (All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge) and concluding a back-to-back set. Golden State had its season-high winning streak snapped at three games, ending the home stand with a sour taste.
“It’s disappointing for sure,” Curry said. “You have a chance to go 3-0 on your home stand, to finish it out and make some more progress to crack into the eighth spot. It’s disappointing but now we have the opportunity to beat two good teams in Memphis and Oklahoma City.”
For the second consecutive game, Lee kept the Warriors in it while the starting backcourt struggled. He usually plays well against Portland. But with Aldridge out of the lineup thanks to a sprained left ankle, Lee – who scored 26 in the last meeting with Portland– really caused problems for the Blazers.
Despite Lee’s performance, the Warriors entered the fourth quarter trailing 72-70 despite shooting 49.2 percent and outrebounding Portland by one through three quarters. But 10 Warriors turnovers and 12 offensive rebounds by Portland led to the Blazers taking 11 more shots. So it didn’t matter thatPortlandshot just 40 percent the first three quarters.
Robinson powered a run that gave the Warriors control of the game. He scored seven straight points at one point, including a step-back jumper that put the Warriors up 81-78. Minutes later, a fade-away by Robinson gave the Warriors a five-point lead with 2:49 left.
But that was about all Golden State could muster. Portland guard Jamal Crawford, a former Warrior, scored five points in the final 1:03 to lift the Blazers. Meanwhile, Robinson – who scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter – missed his last two shots and nearly turned it over before he could attempt a game-winner in the final seconds.
Stumbling through the lane, he shoveled the ball to forward Brandon Rush in the corner. But Rush did not get his 3-pointer off in time and missed anyway.
“We didn’t have a lot of time, but Nate was getting where ever he wanted on to on the floor,” Jackson said. “It was a high pick-and-roll and he came off and had options around the court with shooters … so we did get what we wanted.”
* The NBA released the names of six players selected for the 3-point shootout on Wednesday. The league’s best 3-point shooting team will not be represented.
Warriors sharp-shooting guard Stephen Curry, who nearly won it two years ago, did not get an invite. Neither did rookie swingman Klay Thompson, who entered Wednesday having made half of his 74 attempts from behind the arc.
But the biggest snub, arguably, is Warriors swingman Brandon Rush. He leads the league in 3-point field goal percentage (54.8 entering Wednesday).
“That’s a joke,” Thompson said of Rush’s omission.
New Jersey Nets guard Anthony Morrow, a former Warrior, was invited. As was Orlando forward Ryan Anderson, a Cal product. They’ll be joined by Miami’s Mario Chalmers, Minnesota’s Kevin Love, Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and defending champion James Jones of Miami.
The biggest question marks are Love (36.1 percent) and Joe Johnson (35.6 percent), though both will play in the All-Star game on Sunday. Jackson sounded a bit slighted before the game.
“Why don’t we just fly those guys into Oakland and we can put something at stake,” Jackson said, proposing a shootout at Oracle. “I’ll take my guys.”
Curry, who is shooting 42.5 percent through Tuesday, had a similar idea. The Warriors should have their own shootout. At stake: bragging rights as the team’s best shooter.
Thompson said Rush is the best shooter by virtue of having the team’s best percentage. Rush gave the nod to Thompson for his pure stroke.
Curry didn’t hesitate when asked who he thought was the Warriors’ best shooter.
* You may have noticed Warriors forward Dominic McGuire is suited up and playing sparingly. That’s because his strained right knee still isn’t feeling great. McGuire said it’s still a day or two a way from normalcy.
He said it’s well enough to play, but he doesn’t have the strength and stability he’s used to. McGuire said he doesn’t remember how he injured the leg.
“I just remember it started hurting,” McGuire said.
Golden State figures to need him for the coming road trip atOklahoma CityandMemphis. As the Warriors’ best perimeter defender, he would certainly be needed to match-up against two elite small forwards – Thunder’s Kevin Durant and the Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay.