Monta erupts for 48, Thunder win 119-116

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Monta erupts for 48, Thunder win 119-116

BOX SCORE
OAKLAND Monta Ellis scored a career-high 48 points, but it wasnt enough to lift the Warriors to a victory. The Thunder, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, defeated the Warriors for the second time at Oracle Arena in 11 days.Thunder 119, Warriors 116Player of the game: Warriors shooting guard Monta Ellis had a career-high 48 points, going 18-for-29 from the field and 9-for-10 from the foul line.

Key stretch: With under 20 seconds remaining, Kevin Durant missed a finger roll in the lane, but the Warriors couldnt secure the rebound. Given another opportunity, Durant banked in an 18-footer with 14.2 seconds remaining, which proved to be the game-winner.The Warriors still had plenty of time and were only down one, but they couldnt come through on their last possession. Despite being down just one, Monta Ellis shot a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining.The shot bounced off and the Thunder rebounded.You can nit-pick all you want, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. Thats a guy with 48 points, with a wide-open shot, all by himself, on fire all night long. We executed. David had an option, turned down the drive, kicked it to Monta. Ill take it all day long. He makes it and you say: What a great play. Guy was on fire and he got a wide-open look.A wide-open look might have been a little bit of a stretch considering that Westbrook got a hand up and was close enough to Ellis that there was contact afterward and Ellis ended up on the ground.Still, Ellis, like his coach, had no issue with the shot.I was trying to get a quick shot and try to get somebody to tip it in, Ellis said. Like I said, it was a great shot. Nothing you can do about it. It didnt go down. It is what it is.Jackson questions officiating: One sentence after saying the Warriors were a no-excuse basketball team in his postgame press conference, Jackson then went ahead and criticized the officiating.That play at the end, David Lee gets hammered by James Harden, clearly, and we dont get that call, Jackson said. David Lee now picks up his fifth foul when he doesnt even put contact on Russell Westbrook, who blatantly fouls Monta Ellis. These are calls that you cannot get back but they hurt us. I dont accept My bad from my players all night long and its getting old accepting My bad for missed calls.Lee picked up his fifth foul with 6:28 remaining in the fourth quarter.Tough twosome: Ellis had a monster game for the Warriors, but so did Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunders two stars. Durant finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, while Westbrook had 31 points and seven assists.Lees triple-double: David Lee had a triple-double -- -- the second of his career. It was also the first triple-double by a Warriors power forward since Chris Webber had one on Dec. 23, 1993, vs. the L.A. Clippers.It was the second triple-double of Lees career. His other one came when he was with the Knicks and playing against the Warriors on April 2, 2010. That night, Lee finished with 37 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists.Defense rests: As good as the Warriors were at the offensive end of the floor through three quarter, defensively, they struggled. Want proof? Well after three periods the Warriors were shooting 59.7 percent from the floor and yet only led 93-92.The Thunder were scoring pretty well themselves and shooting well, too. Through three quarters Oklahoma City was shooting 54 percent from the floor and 47.4 percent from 3-point range.Montas big half: Ellis had a monster first half, scoring 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field. It was obvious from the start that Ellis was going to be aggressive as he came out and took six shots in the first six minutes.Ellis had 18 points in the first quarter, marking a season-high for points in a quarter by any Warriors player this season.Nice start: The Warriors scored 35 points in the first quarter, the most points theyve scored in the first quarter of a game this year.No Nate: The Warriors played without backup point guard Nate Robinson, who had a strained left groin. Robinson sustained the injury early in the fourth quarter of Saturdays loss at Sacramento.Robinson continued to play the rest of the fourth quarter that night, then also returned for a portion of overtime.Warriors coach Mark Jackson seemed to think Robinson would play earlier in the day at shootaround, saying: He looks fine so we expect him to be ready.

NBA Gameday: Don't expect Warriors, Spurs to tip their hands

NBA Gameday: Don't expect Warriors, Spurs to tip their hands

After conquering the third-place Rockets in Part I of the toughest two-night stint this season, the Warriors on Wednesday night will take aim on Part II of the challenge.

Which likely will be even more difficult, as the first-place Warriors are going into the historically imposing AT&T Center in San Antonio to face the Spurs, who reside in second place in the Western Conference.

A win by the Warriors (60-14) would reduce to five the magic number for clinching the No. 1 overall seed for the playoffs. A victory by the Spurs (57-16) would pull them within 1.5 games of the top-seeded Warriors.

The Warriors, buoyed by the best defense in the NBA this month, have won eight consecutive games. The win streak began immediately after their last trip to San Antonio, on March 11, when coach Steve Kerr rested Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson.

The Spurs have won five in a row and will be trying to complete a three-game season sweep of the Warriors, who have not been swept by any team since Kerr was hired in 2014.

BETTING LINE

Spurs by 4.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Klay Thompson & Co. vs. Kawhi Leonard: Arguably the league’s best two-way player, Leonard has intruded on what was a two-man MVP race. He has emerged as a team leader and the man who must be neutralized to beat Spurs. Thompson will among several Warriors -- Matt Barnes and Green also will get opportunities -- trying to keep Leonard in check.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F/C James Michael McAdoo (L eyebrow laceration) is listed as probable. F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Spurs: G Dejounte Murray (L groin strain) is listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Spurs: 7-3.

SERIES HISTORY

The Spurs won both games earlier this season, one in Oakland and one in San Antonio. The Warriors won three of four last season but have lost nine of the last 13 meetings overall. They have lost 34 of the last 35 games in San Antonio.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE CHESS GAME: Though neither coach has announced intentions to rest anyone, both realize they could meet again in the postseason. Therefore, neither is likely to tip his full hand in terms of schemes and tactics. Yet it could be said the Warriors, without Durant, have an ace in the hole.

THE FOURS: San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and the Warriors’ Green have been battling for several years. Despite height and physique that pale in comparison to Aldridge, Green’s aggressive nature and knowledge of angles and tendencies have allowed him to contain the bigger man. On the other end, Green hopes his tender ankle won’t prevent him from outrunning the bigger power forward.

THE BENCHES: San Antonio’s bench is deep and frisky; its 10.2 net rating is tops in the NBA. The Warriors, however, have gotten strong play from their reserves and now own the No. 2 net rating (7.4). Both teams have impact players here. Patty Mills is as much of a factor for the Spurs as Iguodala is for the Warriors.

Kevin Durant will be re-evaluated again in 7-10 days

Kevin Durant will be re-evaluated again in 7-10 days

Though Kevin Durant will miss at least five more games, there remains a possibility he could return to the Warriors lineup before the end of the regular season, according to an update provided by the team on Wednesday.

The team’s leading scorer, Durant has missed the last 15 games after sustaining a sprained medial collateral ligament and bone bruise to his left knee on Feb. 28 at Washington. After several days with the knee immobilized, he has spent the past two weeks participating in individual workouts.

“Kevin has made very good progress since suffering the injury four weeks ago in Washington,” began a statement issued by the team. “He has not experienced any setbacks to date and has progressed as well as could be expected. At this point, he is being incorporated into non-contact basketball drills – shooting, running and jumping – and the plan is to intensify his level of movement over the next several days, which will include more explosive cutting and lateral maneuvers.”

Durant has been engaging in shooting and dribbling drills, full-sprint activity and is dunking with ease. The 6-foot-9 forward traveled with the Warriors last week to Oklahoma City and Dallas and is with the team on its current trip to Houston and San Antonio.

“His eventual return to contact drills and practice will be predicated upon his progress to the increased intensity of his workouts, and a return to game action prior to the end of the regular season remains a possibility,” according to the statement. “He will be re-evaluated again in the next 7-10 days.”

The Warriors have eight games remaining on their regular-season schedule, with the last three at home, beginning with the New Orleans Pelicans on April 8.

The playoffs begin on April 15.