Sunday, December 26, 2010

Warriors beat Blazers on Christmas Day 109-102; Ellis scores 39

The Warriors have won two games in a row, something not seen since November. The win over the Kings was big. The Warriors played well, without Andris Biedrins, then blew an 11 point lead to get down 16 to Sacramento into the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter comeback took guts, and was fueled with aggressive performances by Vlade Radmanovic and Reggie Williams. But Monta Ellis and the opponents inability to stop him made the difference for the Warriors. It was an ugly game, but the most important win since the Warriors beat the Jazz in early November.

Steph Curry suited up for the first time in 17 games and started for Keith Smart. Curry struggled from the field but moved the ball on offense to make up for his lack of scoring. Curry finished 2-15 from the field, 0-5 from three, but made 11 assists. Keith Smart also limited Curry's minutes to 29; a reasonable move with how well Reggie has been scoring lately. If Curry would have shot the ball more efficiently...sure, the Warriors would have won by a bigger margin. But Curry's assists and ball movement made a big difference.
Again, Monta Ellis carried the load. Ellis scored 39 points and made seven assists to go along with two steals, the biggest one came with under two minutes in the game. David Lee was the only player to offer any support on the offensive end for most of the way. Lee found a nice touch with the mid-range jumper and finished with 21 points, but didn't rebound as well as he is capable. If Lee can ice skate, he should play for the San Jose Sharks with his toughness. He had an abscess in his left shooting elbow, but played through debilitating injury because the Warriors need him to have a chance. One good arm or two.

Monta hit jumpers and unbelievable shots around the rim. Lee hit mid-range jumpers. the Blazers Killed the Warriors on the boards. The Warriors made defensive stops and Blazers earned second and third chance possessions with tireless work on the offensive glass.

Portland out-rebounded Golden State 53-32. The Blazers owned the offensive rebounds 24-7. This match-up made Biedrins' post presence and rebounding sorely missed. With the game tight all the way, the Warriors needed one more player other than Ellis and Lee to add double figure scoring. It was Radmanovic versus the Kings on Dec. 21. Dorell Wright was that third scorer to give the Warriors enough to beat the Blazers on Christmas day. D-Wright hit a three pointer with 3:35 left in the game to tie the score at 97. On the next possession, he got a steal and dunk to put the Warriors ahead for good.
The Warriors won the game by stopping the Blazers and found ways to collect defensive rebounds.

Western Conference pecking order
There are three groups in the Western Conference. The good, the eighth seed, and the ugly. The good consists of the top seven teams that will make up the #1 though #7 seeds in the West. The eighth seeds teams are self explanatory, and the bad are simply that.

The good: Spurs, Mavs, Lakers, Jazz, Thunder, Hornets, Nuggets. These teams have deep benches and one or more dominant superstars on the roster. The Spurs and Mavs are arguably in another class above the rest.
There are five teams competing for one spot in the West, the eighth seed. These teams are the Blazers, Suns, Rockets, Grizzlies, and Warriors. This group of teams would be perennial playoff participants if they played in the East, but this is the West. When completely healthy, the Warriors are a realistic eight. Completely healthy... hmm, what's that like?

The ugly are the Clippers, Kings, and T' wolves. These teams can't wait for the draft.

Next game: 76ers @ Warriors 7:30, Monday, Dec. 27

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