Warriors end eight-game road losing streak
MINNEAPOLIS – Monta Ellis emerged from the showers having played 83 out of a possible 96 minutes in less than 48 hours.
So Monta, are you tired yet?
“Nope,” Ellis replied with a shrug. “Not really.”
The indefatigable Ellis had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes as the Golden State Warriors snapped an eight-game road losing streak with a 107-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Ellis entered the night leading the league in minutes played at 41.6 per game. Despite playing 45 minutes in a loss to Denver the night before, Ellis found enough energy in his 24-year-old legs to rise up and tip in a missed 3-pointer by Anthony Morrow with 1:05 to go that put the game out of reach.
“It’s not tough at all,” Ellis said. “That’s what we do. We’ve got everybody back now. It’s not like at the beginning of the season when we had a back-to-back and we only had six guys. We can sub now, back-to-backs are pretty much easy now.”
Corey Maggette had 28 points and Stephen Curry added 16 before fouling out for the Warriors, who had not won a road game since Dec. 9 at New Jersey. The Nets (3-32) are the only team with a worse record than the Warriors (10-24) and Timberwolves (7-29).
Al Jefferson had 26 points and 14 rebounds and Kevin Love and 23 points and 16 boards for the Wolves, who have lost five in a row.
The Wolves trailed by 19 points early in the third period before mounting a comeback, pulling within 98-95 with 2:09 to play.
Love gave the Wolves a brief scare when he knocked knees with Maggette with 2:52 to play. He immediately went down, clutching his knee and had to be helped to the locker room. But Love it was only a bruise, and he returned to the game with 1:05 left,
That was just a few seconds too late.
With Love waiting to check in, Ellis sneaked in from the backside and no Timberwolves player blocked him out as he got the easy tip-in for a 102-95 lead.
Looking to settle a score after a 41-point blowout at the hands of the Warriors in Oakland in November, the Timberwolves came out strong with two fast breaks by Corey Brewer for an 8-2 lead.
But for some reason, the Wolves backcourt tried to go toe-to-toe with the Warriors super-quick tandem on the perimeter in the first half, producing disastrous results.
Jonny Flynn turned the ball over four times in the first half and finished the game a woeful 1 for 11 from the floor.
“I couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean tonight,” Flynn said. “It was just one of those nights.”
Ellis and Curry wreaked havoc with their quick hands and quicker cuts to the basket, igniting a 22-6 run that put the Warriors in control. Ellis had four steals and played every minute of the first quarter less than 24 hours after a disheartening loss in Denver.
The Warriors led the Nuggets by one point late in the game when Denver shooting guard J.R. Smith launched a desperation heave from 40 feet at the buzzer. The shot was well off the mark, but Ellis was called for a questionable foul that put Smith at the line.
Smith made two free throws, lifting the Nuggets to a 123-122 victory.
“That was quite the kick in the teeth for our ballclub last night the way we did,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “I’m pretty proud of them in the back-to-back, being able to have the energy to scratch out a win on the road.”
Golden State led 67-48 early in the third quarter before the Timberwolves finally recognized that they owned a decided advantage in the post.
Jefferson scored eight points during a 13-0 spurt that cut Golden State’s lead to 67-61 with 4 minutes to go in the third.
But when Jefferson and Love, who both still are not in 100 percent game shape after missing significant time with injuries, went to the bench for a breather, the Warriors stunted Minnesota’s momentum.
“That was one of the premises of what we wanted to do offensively was attack them inside,” coach Kurt Rambis said. “And clearly at the beginning of the ball game we weren’t doing that. … They weren’t functioning offensively the way they’re capable of doing.”
NOTES: Timberwolves backup PF Ryan Hollins missed the game with an upper respiratory infection. He is listed as day to day. … Wolves F Alando Tucker was activated for the first time since being acquired from the Suns in a trade. He did not play. … The Warriors, who have played an NBA-low 13 home games, now play 18 of the next 24 at Oracle Arena. … Warriors F Devean George went to college at Division-III Augsburg in Minneapolis.