Warriors rally from 18 down to beat Kings
OAKLAND – Monta Ellis spent his offseason running laps around a track near his home. Now Golden State’s speedy guard is running laps around the rest of the NBA.
Ellis, who has played in more complete games this season than any other player in the NBA, had 39 points and six assists in 46 minutes while leading the Warriors to a 108-101 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
“I’m pretty used to it,” Ellis said after Golden State’s second straight win following a three-game losing streak. “In high school that’s all we really did was run. We’d come in to practice one day and wouldn’t even bring a ball out. Just ran for straight 2 1/2 hours. This is right up my alley.”
The Warriors needed every minute he could spare against Sacramento.
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Golden State trailed by 15 at halftime and fell behind by as much as 18 midway through the third quarter before rallying to stun the Kings and heralded first-round pick Tyreke Evans.
Ellis dominated his matchup against Evans most of the night but really took it to the candidate for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award in the fourth quarter. Ellis scored the first seven points of the period, then added four more down the stretch, including a driving layup that gave the Warriors a 100-99 lead with 2:51 remaining.
After Jason Thompson was called for a charging foul with 1:05 left, Anthony Morrow made a 3-pointer to extend Golden State’s lead. The Kings then committed two turnovers in the final 40 seconds, and Corey Maggette made two free throws to seal it for the Warriors.
“The force was with us,” Golden State coach Don Nelson said. “This was one of Monta Ellis’ best performances. It wasn’t just his scoring; he willed and helped our team win. He just kept focused and trucking like the Energizer bunny.”
Evans had 25 points and six assists before fouling out late in the fourth quarter for Sacramento, which led nearly the entire game before collapsing down the stretch. The Kings led 99-94 with 4:38 remaining but managed only one basket the rest of the way, that coming on Sergio Rodriguez’s uncontested layup with six seconds left.
“They kept attacking and we stopped attacking,” Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said. “We stopped playing together and we stopped playing good defense. When you do that, you lose.”
Maggette added 24 points and eight rebounds as the Warriors won consecutive games for only the third time this season.
Golden State, which went 3-12 in December, lost starting forward Anthony Randolph late in the first quarter with possible fractured left ankle. Randolph collapsed to the floor after Evans missed a driving layup at the buzzer and lay prone for several moments before teammates helped him off the court.
Randolph, who finished with six points and four rebounds, is scheduled to undergo a CT scan on Saturday.
With Andris Biedrins still working his way back into shape after groin and back injuries sidelined him for 25 games, Golden State’s bench was stretched thin following the loss of Randolph, and Nelson was once again forced to play his starters longer than he preferred.
Ellis, as usual, was the workhorse Golden State needed. He finished 15 of 29 from the floor while topping the 30-point mark for the 14th time in his last 24 games.
“He doesn’t get tired,” Morrow said. “We’re a pretty hard-working team with a lot of young guys, so to see the captain do that, it just makes you want to come out that much harder. I haven’t seen anything like that since Allen Iverson. He’s the new version of AI.”
The Warriors were coming off a 107-101 win at Minnesota on Wednesday after losing to the Lakers, Portland and Denver. They looked in trouble early against Evans and the Kings.
Ellis scored 18 in the first half, but Sacramento built a 61-46 lead at the break behind 14 points from Evans and 10 apiece from Thompson and Ime Udoka.
The Kings upped the margin to 76-58 following a 3-pointer by Beno Udrih with 6:35 left in the third quarter before the Warriors slowly began to trim away at the lead.
“We started getting into a 1-on-1 contest and got out of the team concept,” Evans said. “We have to be better at closing out games. We knew they weren’t going to stop playing, but we stopped.”
Stephen Curry had 12 points and four assists for Golden State.
Udoka scored 19 points for Sacramento, while Udrih added 14 points and four assists.
NOTES: The game was the first on a seven-game homestand for Golden State, which has already played 21 road games this season, second-most in the NBA. … The all-time series between the two teams is even at 178-178. Sacramento beat Golden State 120-107 on Nov. 8. … The Kings return home for games against Denver and Orlando before embarking on a six-game, nine-day road trip, Sacramento’s longest of the season.
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