G.S. (2-0) 109
L.A.C. (0-2) 91
Monta Ellis: 15 points, 11 assists
Dorell Wright: 24 points, eight rebounds
Friday night was special for a number of reasons. For one, the Warriors were cerebrating their 5,000th game as a basketball franchise. Second, the warriors were trying to start the season 2-0 for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
But the most important aspect of Friday's game is the continued road to maturity and stardom for Monta Ellis.
Only last year, Ellis' long-term status on the Warriors was questionable. Rumors of trade swirled in the bay, especially with the dynamic play of then-rookie Stephen Curry. But the Warriors weathered the storm (and turned down multiple trades, including one from Memphis that would have brought O.J. Mayo to the bay) and now find themselves with one of the deadliest backcourts in the league.
Although the season is young, Ellis seems like a different player, a smarter player and a leader. After dumping 46 points on the Rockets, Ellis came back and faced a Clipper team that made a constant effort to double-team him and stop him from shooting whenever they could. The old Monta would have simply tried to muscle his way through and shoot, no matter what kind of look he was getting.
Do the Warriors contend for a play-off spot?
This is in the rearview mirror.
Ellis sat back and distributed the ball all over the court, finding the holes the double-team created and finished with 11 assists. Dorell Wright had 24 points while Curry finished with 16.
In all, the Warriors starting five look good. Besides the excellent backcourt tandem, Andris Biedrins and David Lee have started gelling well, and feeding off of each other. Lee is also thriving in the power forward position, rather than always playing center like he did in New York.
The problem coach Keith Smart is going to have to overcome is a lack of depth. The Warriors started the game hot, going 8-for-8 on the floor and leading 19-9. Then an ill-advised foul by Biedrins gave him two fouls and Smart had to go to his bench. That led to easy points for the Clippers, especially off of offensive rebounds.
Then still in the first, Smart found himself with two other players, Lee and Curry with two fouls apiece. By the time the first quarter ended, the Warriors were trailing. The Warrior Bench is going to need to contribute. Rodney Carney filled in well with 12 points but the Warriors lack a player on the bench that can come in and contribute in the back court.
Another problem is turnovers. The Warriors are second in points per game and second in assists per game, but they had seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game. Tightening that up will come with time, hopefully.
A good start for the Warriors, who now have to travel down south and play Kobe and the two-time defending champion Lakers who have also started 2-0.