Tuesday’s 119-116 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder was a microcosm for the Warriors’ season thus far, as they failed to capitalize on a grand opportunity.
The Warriors got a career-high 48 points from guard Monta Ellis. Forward David Lee recorded his second-career triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists). And the Warriors put a scare into the arguably the best team in the Western Conference.
But when it came down to the end, the Warriors did what it took to lose. Even at home.
Golden State turned it over six times in the fourth quarter. After shooting 59.7 percent through three quarters, they got jumper happy and went 7 for 18 in the fourth, including five missed 3-pointers and just six points in the paint. Ellis, down one with nine seconds left, wound up taking a contested 3-pointer.
“Our effort was there,” Ellis said. “We played them hard the whole game. It came down to one shot. … It was a great shot. Nothing you can do about it. It didn’t go down. It is what it is.”
CLEVELAND — He scored a game-high 29 points. He put up 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a shot clock-beating, nail-in-the-coffin 18-footer with 44.8 seconds left.
But the scoring star of the Warriors’ 105-95 victory here Tuesday night wasn’t who you might expect.
“It wasn’t my night,” guard Monta Ellis said. “It was David Lee’s.”
Ellis had one of his worst offensive performances of the season. He made just 2 of 12 from the field and finished with 10 points.
He left the game with 35.2 seconds left after taking an elbow to the nose from Cavaliers big man Anderson Varejao. With the game was already decided, Ellis didn’t return. X-rays were negative as he suffered just a cut.
With Ellis having an off night, and point guard Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) in street clothes for the seventh consecutive game, the Warriors (5-8) still managed enough offense to outscore the Cavaliers.
You can thank Lee, who also had nine rebounds as Golden State won back-to-back games road games for the first time since November 2010.
Tuesday night continued a torrid stretch for Lee. Over his last five games, Lee is averaging 24.6 points on 64.3 percent shooting. He’s also averaging 11.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
Gotta tip the cap to Monta Ellis. He went from awful to great faster than he can get down court. I don’t know what happened to turn it around for him, but suddenly he was unstoppable.
To post 12 points and 6 assists in the fourth quarter is special alone. To do it after struggling so mightily the first three quarters (4-for-17 shooting, two assists) showed some mental fortitude.
JACKSON: “I thought he really showed his toughness, his will and what a great player he is. Great players respond in the face of adversity. He puts us on his back and brought us home. People don?t want to talk about it, but he?s going through a lot. Losing a loved one is tough, but he?s been there for his team and still been as strong vocally. He hung in there and carried us to a victory.”
Sunday’s season-opening loss to the Clippers left lots of questions heading into Game 2 tonight.
Needless to say, this one is vital. Golden State needs to take advantage of having a four-game home stand to start the season. Going 1-3, or even 2-2, heading into a three-game road trip (Suns, Spurs, Lakers) would be really bad.
How about this for a change of pace: the Warriors didn’t fall apart in the third quarter and pulled away in the fourth.
Warriors won the third quarter and outscored Chicago 60-44 in the second half, a detour from the trend of hot starts and third quarter meltdowns. And they did it all with virtually six players: Ellis, Maggette, Curry, Biedrins and D-Leaguers Cartier Martin and Anthony Tollilver (Devean George started and played 5:39, and Chris Hunter played 8:51 off the bench). Ellis/Maggette/Curry combined for 94 points on 34-for-71 shooting.
NELLIE: “So here we are, limited. Just about 7 and a half players, but we found a way. That’s good. As you guys know, we’ve actually been playing decently. Usually have had pretty good first halves and then the third quarter has been a problem for us. But tonight we won the third quarter and we had a big fourth quarter. So a very good game for us.”
I just saw this, but the fourth returns from the NBA All-Star balloting was announced Thursday. It doesn’t look good for Monta Ellis’ All-Star chances.
The fourth and final update saw that Houston Rockets guard Tracy McGrady, who has totaled 47 minutes of playing time this season, still in the starting lineup. Ellis really needs Phoenix PG Steve Nash to be named a starter to have a legitimate chance.