Coming into tonight's game, the Golden State Warriors had put up tremendous efforts against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics. On most nights, that kind of play would have gotten the Warriors a victory, but when facing two of the better teams in the East it's hard to come away with a victory especially with only playing eight players.
Flash forward to tonight's game and you saw an incredible effort by the Warriors.
In the first quarter though, it looked like the Portland Trail Blazers were going to take care of business.
One of those reasons was the size advantage that the Trail Blazers have on the Warriors and that showed in the first quarter. The Trail Blazers shot 68 percent in the first quarter and put up 37 points to the Warriors 29.
From the rest of the game, it was all Warriors and Monta Ellis was the main reason why playing all 48 minutes scoring 34 points, 8 assists, two rebounds, two blocked shots, and six steals. It was Ellis's defense on Brandon Roy that was the most impressive aspect of his game.
Looking at Roy's night he struggled going 6-17 from the field, with 17 points, four rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Roy's frustration boiled over to the referees where he was assessed a technical foul.
Beyond that though in the second quarter the Warriors were able to get the Trail Blazers big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden in foul trouble and with the two removed from the lineup until half time the Warriors took advantage.
This allowed the Warriors, specifically with Ellis and Stephen Curry, to attack the basket and either dish off to open teammates for layups or too Anthony Morrow knocking down threes.
As mentioned, the Warriors defense came to play and held the Trail Blazers to just 15 points in the second quarter because of the defense the Warriors erased that eight point deficit taking a four point lead into half time.
Starting the third quarter for the Warriors was recently signed big man Chris Hunter from the D-League. He was the unsung hero of tonight's game while most of the credit will go to Ellis and Curry for their games, Hunter made a huge impact on the defensive end especially against Oden.
Hunter also made an impact on the offensive end hitting a nice little jumper on the wing and a nice little jumper in the lane. On the night he had four points, three rebounds, a block, and a steal.
Also, with Hunter you can see he knows how to play basketball. He didn't look nervous at all in fact he looked like he belonged out there. In essence he played under control.
With Randolph you see that he has a ton of energy, but rarely is Randolph ever under control. I believe with Hunter around you'll see Randolph develop into being a more controlled player.
Besides that you won't see in the box score is the fact that while he was on the offensive boards he was able to bother the Trail Blazers rebounders enough that they were not able to grab the board and instead the ball went out of bounds staying with the Warriors and earning them extra possessions.
As for the third quarter, the Warriors were able to keep that same effort and were able to get the game to a double digit lead.
The Blazers did answer with a few runs getting the game close within six points on a couple of occasions, but the Warriors were able to make plays, never allowing that lead to get under six after gaining the double digit advantage.
The play that Curry made to hit Anthony Morrow for a wide open three, which was buried. It was a fast break, Curry was able to get past the defender and see the open court. He had two options Anthony Randolph who was running towards the basket or Morrow on the same side of the court but just past the three point line.
Curry made the pass to Morrow and as soon as the shot was released you knew the ball was going in.
In the fourth quarter, as mentioned before, the Blazers did have opportunities to get the game within reach, but the Warriors made plays. One of those plays was Ellis's move on Roy which earned Ellis a three point play because Roy tried taking a charge, but was clearly moving.
That took the wind out of the Blazers sails, and the Warriors pushed the lead up to 20. With just over two minutes remaining in the game, the Warriors had held the Blazers to only 11 points in the quarter.
At the end, the Warriors got a little sloppy turning the ball over and missing shots, which allowed the Blazers to reach 19 points for the quarter. Even with that the Warriors were still able to keep the Blazers from scoring 100 points which is the first time all season the Warriors have been able to do that.
It was really hard to find anything negative to say about the effort of the Warriors tonight. The only thing I'd mention is Maggette needs to find the open man more. There was a possession in the game where Maggette took a difficult shot, but if he had looked he had Curry and Morrow with wide open looks for a three pointer.
One other note is the fact that, hopefully, Ronny Turiaf, C.J. Watson, and Andris Biedrins can come back soon because Morrow and Curry can't play 48 minutes a night and Curry won't be able to play 45 plus minutes a night either.
Overall, this was clearly the best effort the Warriors have had this season, hopefully they can keep this kind of effort up!