It nearly came back to hurt the Warriors.
Ellis sat out nearly 5 1/2 minutes stretching from the end of the third quarter into the fourth, then came back to score 17 of his 39 points down the stretch and lift Golden State to a 115-109 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.
“That’s why he’s one of the elite players,” said teammate Dorell Wright(notes), who set a career high with seven 3-pointers. “He’s the face of this organization because he can get going any time he wants to. He reminds me of Dwyane Wade(notes). It was impeccable.”
With point guard Stephen Curry(notes) sitting out a second straight game with a sprained right ankle, Ellis had to do more than just score. He dished out eight assists and made a key steal off Marc Gasol(notes) with just over two minutes remaining while helping Golden State remain unbeaten at home this season.
It was Ellis’ work over the final seven minutes that made the difference, however.
After sitting out the final 37 seconds of the third quarter and the first 4:48 of the fourth, Ellis returned and scored five straight points. He later added an off-balance jumper, then scored Golden State’s final five points on free throws.
“He could have gone 48, he wanted to play 48,” Smart said. “But I knew he had to get some rest time of about 15 minutes. They were chipping away, but I knew we had him to come back in the game and make some plays.”
Ellis’ performance helped the Warriors overcome a sloppy offensive night. Golden State committed a season-high 20 turnovers and shot just 41.3 percent from the floor yet hung on to win.
“We scrapped to the end,” Ellis said. “Pretty much everyone that came off the bench played well. That’s what we needed. Guys stepped up where we needed them.”
“We need more everything,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “We didn’t get to the free throw line and we don’t get second-chance points.”
The Warriors played their second straight game without Curry, who has a right ankle sprain. Curry originally hurt the ankle in Golden State’s final preseason game, then aggravated it in consecutive home games against Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers. He is listed as day to day.
That opened the door for Ellis, who repeatedly attacked the Grizzlies inside. He shot just 12 of 26 but went 14 of 19 from the free throw line.
“We really need to help out on defense and rebound better,” Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo(notes) said. “We just have to get back to the drawing board and get back to defending. There’s no need to panic, but at the same time we need to step it up.”
Coming off a 108-83 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, Golden State got another outstanding night from Wright. Wright, who signed a three-year deal with the Warriors in the offseason after six years with Miami, came within one point of his career best and one 3-pointer of matching Jason Richardson’s(notes) franchise record.
The Grizzlies fell behind by 18 points midway through the third quarter but pulled within 110-106 on Gay’s 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining. After Ellis made three straight free throws, Gay made another 3-pointer to make it 113-109 with 29.9 seconds left, but Memphis couldn’t get any closer.
Golden State made five 3-pointers in the second quarter and led by as much as 12. Wright had three of the 3s, including one with 3.4 seconds left that gave the Warriors a 64-52 lead at halftime.
Wright’s seventh 3-pointer pushed Golden State’s advantage to 82-66 midway through the third quarter before the Grizzlies made their best run of the night.
Conley scored five straight points, while Mayo and Gay later added 3-pointers as part of a 17-6 run that cut the Warriors’ lead to 88-83.
Notes: Golden State also played without F Brandan Wright(notes), who had the stomach flu. … The game drew just 16,607 fans, the lowest of the season at Oracle Arena. … The Warriors have won their first three home games for the first time since 1990.