Those first four games were soooo last year. And it was even more irritating to be playing against a much more improved LA Clippers than the real LA Clippers. However, it was a great two bounce back wins against the Bulls and then against the newly looked Knicks. A loss to the 76ers just damped the fun in 2011. The Warriors finished 2011 with a .500 record, 2-2. Hoping to carry that momentum to Phoenix and the new year, the Suns quickly threw that notion out the window as the defeated the Warriors 102-91 victory in a matinee game. It looked like, after the first quarter, it would be a close game. Box score shows that the Warriors outscored the Suns in both the first and third quarter. But the difference between the fourth quarter, ultimately gave the Suns the cushion they needed.
Monta Ellis led the Warriors with 18 points, while Dominic McGuire and Brandon Rush had 14 points and 13 points respectively. The Warriors were without David Lee for the second game in a row, who was a late scratch due to some illness. Stephen Curry only had 10 points and was barely visible in the game due to foul trouble all game. It also did not help that Dorell Wright played 26 minutes and was a starter only to score a big fat donut, while Andris Beidrins had only four points. Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh contributed with 9 points and 11 points respectively. It will take more points from Curry, Wright, Beidrins and even the bench guys Brown and Udoh for this team to be pushed over the hump and win close games. They also gave up 16 offensive rebounds while giving the ball away 17 times. As coach Mark Jackson quoted, “You put teams on the foul line, turn the basketball over and give up 16 offensive rebounds, it’s a recipe for disaster.”*
But as for the positives, the Warriors did a great job in holding the Suns in fast break points, giving up only 10, while they countered for six. They also were pretty much even in the points in the paint (36-38, Suns edge) and points off of turnovers (17 (18) – 13 (15), Warriors Edge). And their shooting percentage from the field and 3-pt range were better than the Suns, though the Suns did attempt a few more. However, they missed 8 free throws, shooting only 60% while the Suns shot only 76% but only missed five.
With the loss on Monday, the Warriors are in the midst of a 3-game road trip, that began with Phoenix, a road trip to San Antonio, who are without Manu Ginobilli, (a great time to get another W) and ends in SoCal to meet the older, new looked Lakers. Then they counter with three home games against the Utah Jazz, the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic before hitting the road for a four game stint. Of the next six games, only one is a back to back and it will come at a price. After getting out of LA (hoping with a tough, but a W nevertheless), they will be flying back to the Bay Area to play the next night against the Jazz. Though the Jazz is not the same team it once was, we all saw what happens to even a good team (the Bulls) when they play a tough game (ironically, it was against the Lakers) and come to play in another arena the next night. I truly believe that even though it was in the same time zone, the fact of playing a hard game, then flying does take a toll on the body and many of the Bulls shots were forced as they couldn’t get a great first step because of tired legs while they also fell short. With that said, it may be easier for the Warriors, as they are coming home instead of visiting another city and may feel more rested as they can sleep in their own beds.
Here at Blue Man Hoop also like to pay our condolences to Monta Ellis and his family on the passing of his grandmother. He must be going through a difficult time and while it was great to see him play against the Suns and missing only one game, it is a reminder to all of us that while we are fanatic fans of Warrior basketball and basketball in general, life is very short (though she lived to be a great age of 89) and we can not take anything for granted. Amidst the turmoil in his personal life, this was just the nail on the hammer to an ending of 2011 for Ellis. We are hoping for the best in his personal life as well as his professional life, now that a new calendar year has arrived.
*Source: ESPN – NBA – Golden State Warriors