Monta Ellis scored 33 points, pulled down five rebounds and dished seven assists as the Golden State Warriors used a patient approach on both ends of the floor to take control of their game late and upend the Houston Rockets 106-97 Sunday night.
In their previous two games, the Warriors had flip-flop big nights from their backcourt with Ellis scoring 48 in a close loss to Oklahoma City and 36 from Stephen Curry in their win at Denver. Against the Rockets it was Ellis' turn again, evenly distributing his 33 points over the four quarters and scoring in a variety of ways, playing in control throughout.
The Warriors as a team followed that same patient, controlled approach to their game against Houston, who came to Golden State five games ahead of the Warriors on the season. The result was a 51 percent effort shooting the ball from the field and a 1.6 assist to turnover ratio, just above their season average.
Epitomizing the ball movement for Golden State was a play in which Ekpe Udoh set a backscreen out of a timeout and Stephen Curry rifled the ball to Brandon Rush, who calmly knocked down one of his two threes. As a team, the Warriors shot 13-24 (54 percent) from three-point territory, including another fine performance off the bench from rookie Klay Thompson.
Thompson, who led the Warriors with four threes, once again proved a vital late game cog in the Warriors' system, scoring nine of his 14 points from 2:15 left in the third quarter through the end of the game. Joining Thompson with off-the-bench fourth quarter production was Udoh, who scored all seven of his points in the final quarter and led a better-late-than-never run to the free throw line for Golden State. Udoh's five free throw attempts in the fourth quarter led the 11 overall attempts in the fourth quarter for the Warriors, who shot only seven the previous three quarters of the game.
They needed that as Houston used their size advantage to grab offensive rebounds leading to 13 offensive rebounds and 20 second chance points and had no trouble throughout the game getting to the line themselves, attempting 33 for the game.
Leading the way in that category for the Rockets was Kevin Martin who, while having a down year in getting to the line (his Free Throw Rate is half its usual number -- 0.28 attempts per field goal attempt vs 0.55 career), cashed in 9-10 from the line, leading the Rockets in points as well with 28.
The game was close throughout despite only owning two lead changes for the whole game, but Warriors took control in the fourth quarter when they kept Ellis and Lee in throughout almost the entire second half and the Rockets went to the bench. The result was a 17-5 run to start the fourth quarter that saw Golden State stretch to their largest lead of 14.
Tom Martin at Dream Shake saw a less than stellar effort from the Rockets point guards:
Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic failed their test against a good group of Warrior guards -- they combined to shoot 3-12 and got collectively torched by Monta Ellis, whose night took off once he shook Chandler Parsons. Lowry played like the basketball equivalent of a quarterback trying to aim rather than simply let loose and throw. Actually, I take that back: on a few possessions, Lowry hoisted up long three-balls without ever testing the lane. I hate to see him lose his GO-ness inside the arc in favor of becoming a picky passer. He needs to rekindle his old drive on nights like these, as opposed to settling for heaves.
Head to the Winner's Circle, hosted at Golden State of Mind, for their side of the story.