Warriors snap four-game skid, beat Jazz 96-81
OAKLAND – Monta Ellis sat stoically on the Golden State bench in the fourth quarter, a towel draped over his head and an emotionless expression. Even he looked stunned.
The only thing perhaps more surprising than his performance was the outcome.
Stephen Curry had 27 points, seven assists and six rebounds and the Warriors overcame Ellis’ horrendous shooting performance to beat the undermanned Utah Jazz 96-81 on Sunday night to snap a four-game losing streak.
“It was one of those rare nights where everybody had to pick him up,” Curry said.
Even rarer was that they did.
Dorell Wright scored 16 points, and Reggie Williams added 15 to help the Warriors build a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter while Ellis was on the bench. Ellis, averaging a team-high 25 points, was held to a season-low two points on 1-for-9 shooting in 31 minutes.
Warriors coach Keith Smart figured it was just “one of those nights” in the grueling NBA season.
“It rained today. Why did it rain? Blame it on the rain. I don’t know why,” Smart said. “But I think that’s why you try to formulate a basketball team so you don’t rely on one particular player.”
If only the Jazz could do the same without their star.
Al Jefferson had 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko had 14 points and nine rebounds for a Jazz team that has lost six straight road games. Utah never seriously challenged in this one with star point guard Deron Williams out with a hyperextended right wrist and center Mehmet Okur sidelined by a strained back.
“We’re going through some tough times,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “We haven’t played with a lot of energy and then Deron gets hurt. We get banged up and that’s what happens when you get in situations like that. But that’s where you see where the fight is in you and see how bad you really like to play.”
The Warriors had to find new ways to win.
They did some of their best work early even with Ellis held scoreless for the first half. Wright made a pair of 3-pointers, and Curry followed with another to lead an 11-2 run late in the first quarter.
Golden State pushed its lead to 14 points in the second behind mostly reserves, although it struggled to keep the pace – at first, anyway – without the starters, and the lack of production from Ellis showed.
The Jazz regained their rhythm after the break and got within three points, smothering the Warriors defensively. They kept Ellis without a point until his only basket with 7:39 remaining in the third quarter, and even that took some work: Ellis spun into the lane and made a floating layup over Utah’s outstretched front line.
“You could see he wasn’t all the way there, whether it was personal or whatever it was. I’m not taking credit for that,” Utah guard Raja Bell said.
The Warriors managed just fine without him.
They slowly went ahead 85-67 in the fourth quarter against team that was simply exhausted playing short-handed. It was a rare night when Ellis had such low output and the Warriors still won.
The All-Star hopeful’s previous low this season was five points in a 117-89 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 21 when he hardly even played in the second half because it was such a blowout. The last time Ellis scored only two points came against Phoenix on Feb. 4, 2009.
“You have to win a lot of different ways if you want to be successful,” Curry said. “Every night’s not going to be pretty. Even if everybody is not on their game, you have to find ways to win.”
NOTES: The Warriors improved to 2-1 against the Jazz this season. The home team has won each game. They wrap up their season series Feb. 16 in Utah. … Jazz reserve C Kyrylo Fesenko played the final 8 minutes after missing the previous game because of a sinus infection.