In a tight game where every basket was crucial,
Warriors star guard Monta Ellis sat on the bench the entire fourth
quarter while backup guard Nate Robinson ran the show. The result:
a 93-91 demoralizing loss to Portland on Wednesday night at Oracle
Arena. The Warriors failed to capitalize on a vulnerable Portland
squad, which was missing its best player and concluding a
In a tight game where every basket was crucial, Warriors star guard Monta Ellis sat on the bench the entire fourth quarter while backup guard Nate Robinson ran the show.
The result: a 93-91 demoralizing loss to Portland on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena. The Warriors failed to capitalize on a vulnerable Portland squad, which was missing its best player and concluding a back-to-back set.
Golden State had its season-high winning streak snapped at three games, ending the homestand with a sour taste.
With Ellis on the bench, Golden State went the final 2:49 without a field goal, scoring just three points on free throws. 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 tripped before he could attempt a game-winner in the final seconds. Stumbling through the lane, he shoveled the ball to Brandon Rush in the corner, but his 3-pointer did not get off in time and missed anyway.
Ellis was not having a usual game and after the game said he was not feeling well. Through three quarters, he had 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting with five assists and two turnovers in 27 minutes. He never went back in the game.
His backcourt mate, point guard Stephen Curry, was hardly lights out either. He had eight points on 3-for-10 shooting with eight assists. He logged nearly nine fourth-quarter minutes but took just one shot.
Forward David Lee, despite having a big night, took just two shots in the fourth quarter. Lee finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds in 40 minutes.
Wednesday figured to be a big night for Lee. He usually plays well against Portland power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. But with Aldridge out of the lineup, Lee’s chances of a big night improved. And he followed suit.
Lee notched his second consecutive 20-point, 10-rebound game. Playing his best basketball of the season, he now has a double-double in five straight home games.
“He’s a double-double machine when he’s out there playing the way he’s supposed to,” Curry said before the game.
The Warriors appeared to get a break with the absence of Aldridge, who sprained his left ankle Tuesday night against visiting Washington. X-rays were negative, but Aldridge, who was named an All-Star for the first time earlier this month, didn’t make the trip to Oakland. He was averaging 22.6 points and 8.3 rebounds.
“He’s an elite player. He’s an All-Star and deservedly so,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said before the game. “It makes a difference not having him, but at the same time this is a deep basketball team that is extremely well coached. They have guys who can hurt us, so it’s going to be up to us to make sure we don’t fall asleep and think because they don’t have their best player, it’s going to be a cake walk.”
It was hardly a cake walk.
The Warriors entered the fourth quarter trailing 72-70. They shot 49.2 percent and out-rebounded 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 that Portland shot just 40 percent the first three quarters.
Lee, for the second consecutive night, kept the Warriors in the game while the starting backcourt struggled. Lee – who had 26 in the first meeting against Portland – scored half the Warriors’ 16 points in the third quarter and entered the fourth with 25 points on 12-for-18 shooting with nine rebounds and three assists.
Meanwhile, Curry and backcourt partner Monta Ellis had combined for 16 points on 18 shots through three quarters. They also combined for 12 assists but were hardly the offensive weapons Golden State is used to relying on.
Fortunately for the Warriors, Lee got some help from Robinson.
– The NBA released the names of six players selected for the 3-point shootout Wednesday. The league’s best 3-point shooting team will not be represented.
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 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 Johnson (35.6 percent), though both will play in the All-Star game. 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 away 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 at Oklahoma City and Memphis. As the Warriors’ best perimeter defender, he would certainly be needed to matchup against two elite small forwards, the Thunder’s Kevin Durant and the Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay.