With about three and half minutes left in the game and the Golden State Warriors down by five points against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, all-everything guard Monta Ellis crashed to floor in obvious pain, continuously tapping his right foot to floor while holding his surgically repaired left ankle motionless in the air.
Not knowing exactly what happened to their best player or how badly he might be hurt, fans in the section where I was sitting (nine rows before the Warriors’ bench thanks to a serious upgrade compliments of the Warriors’ media relations folks) … used the stoppage in action as a good excuse to get up and leave. Really?
Monta Ellis, the guy who has given everything he has to give and then some, who has played through persistent pain and has been one of the few bright spots for a team destroyed by an unending string of bad breaks, is unable to get up off the floor and fans walk out? Is that really where we are as a fan base?
I understand we’ve become numb to injuries and blown leads (the Warriors were up 14 in the first quarter and eight after three quarters before losing 127-117 for their ninth straight loss), but this was Ellis and is could have been bad, really bad.
After he was helped to the feet, Ellis limped to the bench where he took a seat near the end next to Vladimir Radmanovic, one of seemingly dozens of Warriors out with an injury. Ellis, like the fans, didn’t see the end of the game as he went to the locker room early.
Fortunately, for those who actually care, Ellis said in The Chronicle the injury to his knee, not his ankle, was scary but “not as bad as it looked or as I made it seem.”
Consider that a rare bit of good news. With just one day off before playing the Clippers in the final game before the All-Star break, don’t be surprised if Ellis doesn’t play and actually rests the knee — and every other part of his overworked body.
If he doesn’t play, he’ll join Corey Maggette on the sideline through the All-Star break. Maggette didn’t play Monday because of a dislocated finger and has been told by team doctors not to play until after the break. Devean George was sick and also missed Monday’s game.
It’s not like Ellis has to rush back to prove he’s healthy so that the league’s sixth-leading scorer can play in Sunday’s All-Star showcase event. Despite Brandon Roy becoming the second guard named to the Western Conference team forced to miss the game due to injury, Ellis still hasn’t been invited. On Monday, the Clippers’ Chris Kaman (averaging 20.2 points and nine rebounds) was named an injury replacement for Roy.
Now there’s a rumor that Kobe Bryant might not play. If the league finally asks Ellis to play, which doesn’t seem likely given Ellis’ injury and apparent second-class status, I kind of hope he says no.
Now back to the game, and a few random thoughts:
— Anthony Tolliver, the D-Leaguer at the center of the big roster controversy on Saturday, had his second consecutive double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds while coming off the bench. Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf, meanwhile, were paired in the starting lineup and combined for 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Tolliver was clearly the best of the three on Monday, showing a little bit of his shooting range while working hard on the glass. Tolliver, who was given a guaranteed contract for the rest of the season, is due to make less than $100,000 for the remainder of the season. Biedrins and Turiaf, meanwhile, are making more than $13 million this year. It seems like something’s a little wrong with that picture.
— Anthony Morrow, who played just five minutes Saturday in his first game in three weeks after a knee injury, had his best game of the year with a season-high 33 points and 11 rebounds in 45 minutes. He passed up an open shot early, but was willing to fire away most of the game, finishing 12-of-20 overall and 5-of-9 from 3-point range. Let’s hope that while he was rehabbing his knee, he also rehabbed his confidence.
— Ellis had 27 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals before getting hurt.
— Stephen Curry played all 48 minutes (and looked gassed at the end), scoring 25 points and handing out nine assists. Defensively, he roamed a little too far away from Jason Kidd, not known for his outside shot but a capable shooter from time to time. Monday was one of those times as he took advantage of the open looks to score 17 points while hitting 4-of-6 3-pointers.
— Jason Terry (36 points), Josh Howard (25) and Drew Gooden (24) all scored season highs for the Mavs, whose only two wins in their past six games have come against the Warriors. Dirk Nowitzki had only 15 points while sitting out the entire second quarter with three fouls and Shawn Marion looked awful while scoring only five points. Even without them contributing, the Mavs stayed close and took over in the fourth quarter, when their intensity seemed to pick up. It’s as if they cruised through the first three quarters (often laughing during timeouts even while down double digits) then decided to actually try in the fourth quarter and outscored the Warriors 37-19 in the final frame.
— The Warriors, who beat the Mavericks while playing only six players earlier this year, basically played six again on Monday. Chris Hunter got in for one minute and C.J. Watson had a turnover and three fouls in six minutes (the last four coming after Ellis’ injury). Coby Karl did not play in what could be his last game as a Warrior. His 10-day contract expired Monday and the team decided not to offer him a second 10 days, mostly because it would coincide with the upcoming All-Star break.