Warriors burn the Nets
OAKLAND – With point guard Monta Ellis sidelined because of a sprained right ankle, Golden State coach Don Nelson needs Stephen Curry to be more vocal on the court.
While that might be a challenge for the Warriors’ rookie, Curry figures it’s the next step in his evolution process.
Curry scored a career-high 32 points, Corey Maggette added 29 points and the Warriors beat the New Jersey Nets 111-79 on Friday.
“I talk a lot, I just don’t really tell people where to go,” Curry said as he sat with his feet in a bucket of ice. “Pretty much every possession you have to be the one that everybody looks to get in the right spot. You know you’re boundaries, what you can say and what you can’t say.”
Curry’s scoring and vocal cords became more important to the Warriors when Ellis limped out of the game against New Jersey just after halftime.
Ellis, the NBA leader in minutes played, was hurt in the first quarter when a New Jersey player stepped on his right foot. He played most of the second quarter and returned briefly in the third, finishing with a season-low four points with five assists before asking out of the game. He was taken for X-rays, which were negative, but didn’t accompany the team on its plane trip to play Phoenix on Saturday.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Nelson said. “I was worried when he went out but the team played real well. Stef Curry kind of took over and managed a real good game and just kind of carried us along, he and (Corey) Maggette.”
Maggette added 29 points and five assists while Cartier Martin, a Development League call-up playing on his second 10-day contract with Golden State, added a career-high 16 points and eight rebounds for the Warriors (13-28), who beat the Nets for the second time this season.
Brook Lopez had 21 points and six rebounds for New Jersey (3-39), which lost its 10th straight. The Nets, who also lost their point guard Devin Harris to an injury in the first half, fell to 1-22 on the road.
“We competed in the first half but Devin Harris gets hurt and we just collapsed,” New Jersey coach Kiki Vandeweghe said. “We showed some fight and effort but it was too little, too late. This is another game where we could not hit a shot when we needed it.”
Curry, the seventh overall pick in the draft, has been on a scoring roll lately for Golden State and picked up the scoring slack left by Ellis’ absence. The Warriors’ rookie, whose previous season high was 27 points against Washington on Dec. 18, went 11 of 21 from the floor and added seven assists.
He scored nine of Golden State’s first 18 points then added 13 more in the third quarter when the Warriors broke the game open with a pair of big runs.
At a time when most NBA rookies usually begin tiring out, Curry seems to be getting better. He’s shooting 51.4 percent (37 of 72) from 3-point range over his last 16 games.
“He’s comfortable (but) what I need him to do is use his voice more as a point guard and convey direction,” Nelson said. “He’s a rookie so that’s probably not too easy for him right now but eventually I need him to pass the information. I can’t yell it out to five guys. He’s got to get better at that.”
Maggette’s recent scoring surge is helping the Warriors, too. He fell one point shy of becoming the first Golden State player to score 30 or more in four consecutive games since Antawn Jamison in 2001 but still went 9 of 14 from the floor and was a steady threat all night.
The Nets, who haven’t won since beating the New York Knicks 104-95 on Dec. 30, couldn’t keep up despite another solid effort from Lopez. Lopez, who spent two years in college at nearby Stanford, scored six straight points to pull New Jersey to 74-63 midway through the third quarter before Golden State ended the period with on a 14-2 run.
“We were right there but we had some miscues in the second half that took us out of the game,” Lopez said. “(The Warriors) are able to respond to a bunch of injuries, and we need to learn how to adapt because it happens.”
The bad news didn’t end on the scoreboard for the Nets.
Harris did not play in the second half after aggravating a sprained right wrist, a similar injury to the one that kept him out of New Jersey’s Jan. 10 loss to San Antonio. He spent the second half on the bench wearing a thick bag of ice on his wrist and finished with four points and three assists
The Warriors won’t have much sympathy. They had nine players in uniform after playing the previous three games with only eight.
They’ll be back to eight against Phoenix with Ellis remaining in Oakland to rest his sore right ankle. Ellis, who pulled out of a team shootaround on Wednesday due to soreness in his left ankle, made just 2 of 9 shots before leaving the win against New Jersey.
NOTES: Maggette became the first Warriors player to attempt 10 or more free throws in 11 consecutive games since Wilt Chamberlain in 1964. … The Nets only road win was Dec. 8 at Chicago when New Jersey beat the Bulls 103-101. … New Jersey has lost five straight games in Oakland.