Steinmetz: Early Returns on Ellis

October 28, 2010, 6:23 am
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Matt Steinmetz

OAKLAND -- There's a lot of skepticism when it comes to Monta Ellis, and whether he can maintain his positive outlook and attitude for the rest of the season.

Look, there's no doubt Ellis is a different person than he was a year ago. The question is: Can he keep it up?

Well, after Ellis equaled a career high with 46 points to lead the Warriors to a season-opening 132-128 win against the Rockets, his coach thinks he will.

"This young man has made a complete turnaround in his life," Warriors coach Keith Smart said. "And once your life is in order things start to work perfectly for you. His relationship (marriage) and his life are in great order, and the guy has been ready to play since the summer, working out with (assistant) coach (Steven) Silas in Memphis."

After a disappointing 2009-10, one in which the Warriors won only 26 games, Ellis showed up early to training camp and re-integrated himself with the team. Last season Ellis seemed distant, almost on the periphery -- even though he was putting up big numbers.

There was also plenty of discussion a year ago about whose team this was -- Stephen Curry's or Monta Ellis'. Well, there's no doubt right now that if Ellis is engaged and focused, the Warriors are Ellis' team.

And why not? He's the Warriors' best player.

Ellis started Wednesday's game hot and never did cool off. He had 17 points in the first quarter, 27 points at the half, and wound up an astonishing 18-for-24 game from the field.

"It's easy to play when you're not worrying about anything," Ellis said afterward, acknowledging that his life off the court has made being on the court more enjoyable.

"I'm just happy we got the win," Ellis said. "It was just one of those games where shots were going in early and then they just kept falling."

Said Houston coach Rick Adelman: "We did not shut off his drives and he was able to get to the basket. We kept him off the free-throw line for the most part until the end of the game when we fouled him. But he had a great effort. It seemed like he made every shot."

Not quite, but Ellis' performance on Wednesday was pretty impressive. Come to think of it, Ellis has been pretty impressive since Day 1. And all signs point to him being able to keep it up.

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