The Golden State Warriors are taking full advantage of a stretch of games against seemingly inferior opponents to move into the Western Conference playoff picture.
They may have to continue their run without their most dynamic offensive player.
The Warriors, who could be without Monta Ellis(notes) after he was injured during a thrilling comeback victory, look to win five in a row for the first time in more than three years Saturday night at the Los Angeles Clippers.
After opening a homestand with a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 12, Golden State (19-23) faced much easier competition during the rest of its stay at Oracle Arena. The winning streak started with a 122-112 victory over the Clippers on Jan. 14, and continued with wins over New Jersey, Indiana and Sacramento. Those four teams are a combined 53-112.
Golden State, which hasn’t won five straight since a six-game run Nov. 23-Dec. 2, 2007, is now four games behind Portland for the West’s final playoff spot.
The Warriors beat the Kings 119-112 in overtime Friday, but received a scare late.
Ellis had to be carried off the court after spraining his left ankle with 22 seconds remaining in the extra session. The team said Ellis will not need X-rays, and he said the ankle was just a little sore.
Ellis helped erase a nine-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation, and sent the game to overtime with a tying jumper from just behind the free-throw line with 0.9 seconds remaining. He finished with 28 points, while Stephen Curry(notes) scored 34.
“It is a little bittersweet,” Curry said of the comeback win being tempered by Ellis’ injury.
If Ellis sits out, it would likely be a big blow for Golden State, which is 5-17 when Ellis scores 25 points or fewer
Ellis, who has yet to miss a game this season, averages a league-high 41.1 minutes and a team-best 26.0 points. He is averaging 31.6 points on 51.2-percent shooting in his last five games, which includes a 30-point effort against the Clippers last week.
Los Angeles (16-26) saw its three-game winning streak come to an end with Thursday’s 108-93 loss in Portland, just its second defeat in eight games. The other loss came at Golden State.
Eric Gordon(notes) had 35 points Thursday despite playing with an injured tendon on the ring finger of his shooting hand. Blake Griffin(notes) added 20 points and 18 rebounds, but the Clippers allowed the Trail Blazers to shoot 56.4 percent. Los Angeles is 0-9 when allowing opponents to make more than half their shots.
“Our defense was not good enough or tough enough,” coach Vinny Del Negro said.
The Clippers had similar problems slowing down the Warriors’ offense at Oracle Arena last week, but fared much better defensively in a 105-91 home win over Golden State on Jan. 9.
Ellis finished with 13 points while shooting 4 of 19 in that visit, while Curry had eight points and went 2 for 13 from the floor. The Warriors, who shot 39.0 percent as a team, fell to 2-15 when scoring 100 or fewer.
The Clippers hope to bounce back from Thursday’s defeat at Staples Center, where they’ve outscored opponents by an average of 10.4 points while winning their last six home games. Los Angeles hasn’t won seven straight at home in a single season since Jan. 24-March 2, 2005.