Some good news for Golden State Warriors fans Tuesday afternoon: Per Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, the team has announced that X-rays and a CT scan showed no structural damage to the back of Monta Ellis(notes), confirming a prior report by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that a source characterized the injury as "not serious."
According to the team, Ellis is now in New York, where the Warriors will take on the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
With the Warriors leading by five and just over a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Ellis drove around Sonny Weems(notes), gained the baseline and leapt to attempt a layup, drawing the defensive attention of DeMar DeRozan(notes) and Amir Johnson(notes). After the Toronto duo contested the shot, Ellis lost control of the ball and seemed to immediately go limp. He bent backward from the impact of the play, his left leg striking the hardwood first while his upper body remained rigid.
Play continued, with the Raptors pushing the ball into the frontcourt while Ellis remained on the deck, nearly motionless and grimacing in pain. After the Warriors regained possession, a demonstrative Jarrett Jack(notes) directed an official's attention to the injured star, keying a stoppage in play. After being examined on the court, Ellis limped back to the locker room with some help, then underwent the tests that revealed a strained back before staying in his Toronto hotel room while the team hit the road. (Hit the jump for video of the play.)
It was a frightening sequence, in large part because of how resilient the 6-foot-3 guard has proven to be.
While Ellis has been injury-prone since the Warriors selected him in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft, missing time for a variety of sprains and tweaks, he's also established himself as a pretty tough customer on the court over the past five years — as Marcus Thompson II of the Oakland Tribune noted, "When [...] Ellis hits the hardwood and doesn't pop back up, you know something's wrong." Considering how quickly it became obvious that Ellis wasn't just popping back up, there were some dire thoughts during those few moments. (To his credit, Warriors coach Keith Smart told the Associated Press that Ellis "was ready to pop up sooner ... I think it was more concern with the doctors that were there, our trainer that was there, to make sure when you have something like that happen, don't do something too soon.")
The hope is that the back strain doesn't derail the magnificent momentum that Ellis, healthy again and reportedly packing a brand-new outlook, has built up over the first two weeks of the season. Through seven games, Ellis stands as the NBA's leading scorer, averaging 27.9 points per game, ranking third in the league with 2.7 steals per game, hitting a fantastic 52.1 percent of his field-goal attempts and, as has been well noted elsewhere on our fair Internet, reminding us why he set our hearts aflame back in '07.
As presently constituted, the Warriors might not be much more than an also-ran in this year's Western Conference, but with a world-beating Monta breathing fire at the two, a continued breakout campaign from Stephen Curry(notes) (21 points on 50.7 percent shooting, 6.6 assists and a shade under two steals in 33 minutes per night in the early going) and a version of David Lee(notes) that finds his scoring touch after a slow start (13.1 points per 36 minutes, down from 19.6 a season ago, on just 42.5 percent shooting, a full 13 points below his career average), they could be a damned beautiful one to watch.
Video courtesy of Ben Golliver at CBS Sports' NBA Facts & Rumors.