Ellis leads Warriors past Blazers 109-102By JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer Sunday, Dec 26, 2010
Ellis had 39 points, and the Warriors scored 11 straight to erase a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter and beat the Portland Trail Blazers 109-102 on Saturday night in their first Christmas home game.
Ellis, who is third in the NBA in scoring at 26 points per game, has netted 119 points the past three games, the best scoring stretch of his career.
“He’s our MVP,” coach Keith Smart said. “He’s doing the job that’s necessary for a player like him who can do so many things for a team. He’s our MVP and he’s moving into that selective group of players in the NBA that play at a high level every single night and that’s what he’s done.”
After losing their first 17 games when trailing after three quarters, the Warriors have overcome late deficits to win the past two games.
They didn’t have to dig out of as deep a hole as they did Tuesday night, when they rallied from 16 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Sacramento Kings in overtime. But they still needed clutch plays late to snap Portland’s three-game winning streak.
“That’s really the mark of a good team,” Lee said. “We have to find a way to win those games and grind a few of those out. If you can win those gams, that’s the difference of being a 35- or 40-win team or winning 50 games.”
LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) gave the Blazers a 97-91 lead with just over 5 minutes left and it looked as if Portland was in position to win for the second straight time in Oakland following nine losses in a row here.
But Wesley Matthews(notes) fouled Ellis on a 3-pointer to start Golden State’s run. Ellis made all three free throws, and Wright hit a tying 3-pointer on the Warriors’ next possession. Wright then stole a pass from Rudy Fernandez(notes) and went the other way for a dunk that gave the Warriors their first lead of the quarter.
Reggie Williams(notes) capped the run with another 3-pointer that made it 102-97. Ellis put the game away with a long jumper, followed by a steal and layup that gave the Warriors a 106-99 lead with 1:04 to play.
The Blazers shot 31 percent in the fourth quarter, missing 10 straight shots from the field in one key stretch.
“We got after it,” Ellis said. “We played defense, contested every shot, and did whatever we needed to do to get this win because we needed it.”
“They got momentum on their side and they just ran with it,” said Aldridge, who missed a dunk in the fourth quarter. “We got to take care of the ball better. We weren’t scoring but we were turning it over and they were running out getting easy shots on us.”
The teams met for the second straight Saturday night, following last week’s 96-95 win in Portland by the Blazers when Ellis missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer. Portland won that game despite missing injured starters Brandon Roy(notes), Batum and Marcus Camby(notes). Roy was the only one of those three not back for this game, missing his fourth straight with an injured left knee.
The Warriors got point guard Stephen Curry(notes) back after he missed six games with a sprained right ankle. Curry was more a facilitator than shooter, with 11 assists and only four points on 2-for-15 shooting.
It was a tight first half with neither team leading by more than five points at any juncture. Ellis single-handedly kept the Warriors close, scoring 18 of his 24 first-half points in the second quarter. He scored on a scintillating left-handed reverse to cut Portland’s lead to 49-48 as the fans chanted “M-V-P!” repeatedly late in the half.
He barely missed a half-court shot at the buzzer, shortly after Matthews gave Portland a 57-56 lead with a dunk. This marked the fourth time this season Ellis scored at least 24 points in the opening half—a mark reached only seven other times by everyone else in the NBA.
“He’s very aggressive,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “He can flat out score. He’s fearless going to the basket. When he has his jump shot going it’s very tough to defend him, and he had it going early.’
Notes: This is the Warriors’ 11th Christmas game since moving West in 1962-63. They last played on Christmas in 1984 at Portland. … The Blazers fell to 14-3 on Christmas, including five wins against Golden State from 1977-84. … The Warriors wore red shoes with green socks.