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Warriors Get Hot, Route the Lowly Washington Wizards

Game story from tomorrow’s paper

WASHINGTON– Warriors guard Monta Ellis, after getting caught in the air on a drive to the basket, threw an errant pass towards the top.

Point guard Stephen Curry — fresh off a four-game stint on the bench — chased down the loose ball and, from right where he was, chucked a 3-pointer. Drilled it from about 30 feet.

It was that kind of night for the Warriors. Everything they threw up seemed to go in, leading to a 120-100 win over the Washington Wizards, ending a two-game losing streak and ending the five-game road trip on a positive not. Golden State shot 54.2 percent from the field, even made 15 from behind the arc, one off the season-high.

“We made shots, that’s the biggest thing,” Warriors guard Monta Ellis said after totaling 25 points with eight assists. “Wish they could’ve come a little bit earlier. … It was one of those nights when the basketball was big for everyone.”

Monday’s performance was the antithesis of Sunday’s loss at Toronto, when the Warriors couldn’t throw a rock into the ocean from the ledge of a boat. Golden State even got a season-high 52 points from the bench, led by 18 points from rookie swingman Klay Thompson.

Certainly, they were playing one of the league’s worst defenses. Washington came into the game ranked 29th in points allowed (101.3) and 26th in field goal percentage defense (45.5 percent). But the Warriors took complete advantage.

Ellis scored 14 points in the first quarter, capped with a running 3-pointer from 36-feet at the buzzer, sending Golden State into the second quarter up 41-24. The Warriors made 15 of their first shots 21 shots and never looked back.

“We are not where I want to be,” coach Mark Jackson said, “But I have no doubt about the mentality of this basketball team. They’re not going to quit. They’re not going to let go of the rope.”

 

* Curry’s return to action Monday and in nine minutes showed what the Warriors had been missing. He scored 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting while playing off the ball. Curry called it a “quick tester.”

“He looked good. If it was a closer game, I would have kept him in longer,” Jackson said. “But he jumped in the pool and got out.”

Jackson said barring incident he won’t ease Curry in by bringing him off the bench. Curry said he didn’t have any setbacks and he’s ready for more action, but he would happily yield toJackson’s wisdom on the matter.

Curry checked in with 6:25 left in the first quarter and, 12 seconds later, knocked down an open 3-pointer from the top. Some three minutes later, he dropped in a high-arching bank shop from close range. He played just over four minutes in the first half.

He came back in late in the third quarter and scored seven points in just over three minutes. After Washington cut the Warriors’ lead to 13, Curry scored five straight points, including that long 3-pointer, to send the Warriors into the fourth quarter up 89-71.

 

*Jackson said the change in the starting lineup at center is permanent – Ekpe Udoh is the starter. That is, “unless he completely falls off the map.”

Udoh will start his second consecutive game Monday night atWashington. That means Andris Biedrins, who started 90 percent of the games he’s played the last six seasons, is now a reserve. But Jackson said that doesn’t mean he’s giving up on Biedrins.

“He can rebound. He can defend. So I don’t think it’s a last straw,” Jackson said. “When you’re a big man who can do those things, you can help a team. We’re just trying to push buttons to get him to where he used to be.”

Biedrins is apparently taking the move in stride. Jackson said he had a good practice after learning he was demoted. Monday night before the game, he was joking when discussing the move.

“I’ve got a big chip on my shoulder,” Biedrins said with a smile. “You see it?”

Biedrins said some changes needed to be made since the Warriors have been losing. He said he didn’t mind when the coach told him he would come off the bench because he’s willing to do what it takes to the help the team.

“If that helps our team, that’s fine with me,” he said.

Biedrins said while he understands the ire he receives, he does find it frustrating that his critics don’t see the whole picture – him sacrificing for the team, his helping the other guys, his keeping his emotions in check despite unfavorable playing time and results.

“You don’t see that stuff on the stat sheet, obviously,” Biedrins said. “I try to be a good teammate, as good as I can be in this situation. I will always be like this, good times or bad times.”

It seems Jackson’s hope is that this story isn’t over. Ideally, Biedrins would respond by stepping up his game, forcing Jackson to reconsider his starting center position. Jackson said he’s hoping the benching will light a fire under Biedrins, spark his competitive nature.

Biedrins said Udoh is “playing really well.” Unlike Biedrins, Udoh is expected to give the Warriors some offense at the center position – or at least the threat of offense.

Udoh said he’s more comfortable looking for his shot, especially taking his midrange jumper. But he said he doesn’t feel more pressure now that he’s the Warriors’ starting center. He finished with 17 points on 5 for 10 shooting Monday, knocking down all seven of his free throw attempts.

“With extended minutes, I see his confidence going up and up,” Lee said. “I don’t see him hesitating any more.”

 

* Warriors will be giving out Mitch Richmond bobble head dolls to the first 10,000 fans at Wednesday’s game vs.Memphis. For more information, go to Warriors.com

Marcus Thompson