Warriors vs Nuggets, Warriors 116-114. Short term memory makes for happier Warriors fans today.
As predicted, Monta Ellis came out gunning. Shooting early and often, and making most of his shots. No, he's not an All-Star yet again. For 14 years the Warriors have had to settle for occasional slots in the 3 point shoot out or dunk competition. No Warrior had suited up in the main event since Latrell Sprewell last suited up for the Western Conference squad. But in many ways, the explosive scoring by Monta sent a message that he can light it up with the best. (Couple that with what seemed like true indifference towards playing defense and this contest resemble the annual exhibition.)
The characteristic high-scoring affair, not at all unexpected when these two teams meet, led to a 100-92 advantage for the Warriors at the end of three quarters. That sort of performance can signify lights out shooting and/or pathetic defense. And for three quarters, that seemed to be the story.
But wait! Twelve minutes remained to grind it out, to reign in the pace, and come up with just enough stops to keep the Nuggets from stealing this one. It reminded me of speeding along at 85, sure you're going to make your appointment on time, only to see 5 cops and three accidents in the last mile, watching the dashboard clock tick away while traffic.does.not.move.
Luckily, there were surface streets to take, and while Denver gained ground at each red light, they never caught up.
Good win guys. When you had to be, you were a basketball team.
And it's a win by the *team*. Monta deserves much credit. 37 on 16 made baskets in 30 attemps, including a late 3 to help hold off Denver's late charge, earns him Warriors Wonder awards tonight. Each basket was needed with Curry picking up fouls early and the thin guard corps got thinner. Luckily Reggie Williams also came to play and picked up more than enough slack, seldom missing (7 for 10 and 4 of 4 from deep [sometimes very deep]) while also finding the open man for 6 assists. For good measure, toss in Dorell Wright's wonder-worthy line (23 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists). No, it's not an afterthought at all, just something that no longer surprises me. Dorell once again looked like the best bargain signing of the season.
Meanwhile, the Warriors front court showed up on the glass enough to match the Nuggets on the boards. Dorell, Lee and Biedrins all finished with double digit rebounds. Smart seemed to realize that the game was going to come down to possessions, to the point of reinserting Andris Biedrins in the game in the middle of the 4th quarter far later than he's shown himself to be comfortable with in the past. The stint with all 5 starters held Denver at bay just long enough.
Taking nothing away from the victory, one does have to wonder if a healthy Chauncey would have allowed Nene to take that last shot. Perfect from the field or not, I'd take my chances with him taking that look every time versus Billups shooting from long range or Melo with the ball in his hands anywhere on the court guarded by anyone we could throw at him. Bullet dodged.
Mostly off topic comment starter: It does seem like Biedrins is rounding back into being a productive player. He's still a key force on the boards and he challenged some shots, but did anyone else notice him struggling to keep up in transition? It's not that he's become a hulking giant by any stretch, but he seemed to be moving more like a guy carrying more weight than he's used to and feeling the effects on the conditioning. This might explain the drop in blocks this year if he's not getting off the floor like he could once upon a time.