Warriors down Suns on Monta's game-winner, 106-104

679540.jpg

Warriors down Suns on Monta's game-winner, 106-104

BOX SCORE

Warriors 106, Suns 104Player of the game: Monta Ellis had 26 points and six assists and hit the games biggest bucket, a contested jumper over Grant Hill with one second remaining to give the Warriors a 106-104 victory.It was great defense, Ellis said of the game-winner. But better offense. I had to concentrate and make that shot. It felt good when it left my hand.The win snapped a 13-game losing streak at Phoenix for the Warriors. Their last win there was in 2005.Key play: With the game tied 104-104 and 24 seconds remaining, the Warriors set up for one final possession. Ellis dribbled the ball at the top of the circle with Hill on him and went right.Hill had him smothered, but Ellis made a pivot and then hit a tough fadeaway from about 18 feet away to give the Warriors the win.On the games final play, Channing Frye got open from the 3-point line, but missed on a potential game-winner.Curry foot tweak: Warriors point guard Stephen Curry tweaked his right foot late in the first quarter on Monday. Curry sustained the injury while he was leading a fastbreak and trying to finish at the rim.Curry got to the bucket, but appeared to injure the right foot while coming down. Warriors coach Mark Jackson put Curry back into the game late in the second quarter, but as he walked to the locker room at halftime, Curry seemed to be favoring the foot.Curry didnt play in the second half and wound up with nine points in just 10 minutes. The injury was called a tendon strain in Currys foot. X-rays were negative.Said Jackson: He just tweaked his foot a little bit. Hes going to get checked out. Im not an expert but the right thing to do was shut him down, take advantage of the rest (over All-Star weekend).Udoh reinjured: Warriors power forward Ekpe Udoh, who bruised his left knee during Mondays game against the Clippers, banged the knee again on Wednesday night.Udoh brushed the knee against Sebastian Telfairs knee in the second quarter and came up limping. The Warriors called the injury a left knee contusion, though Udoh returned in the second half.Ekpe wasnt 100 percent, Jackson said. At halftime he said he was OK, but obviously he wasnt himself.
Wright back on track: Dorell Wright entered Wednesdays game against Phoenix having missed 13 consecutive shots over the previous two games. Wright was 0-for-7 from the field against Memphis and then followed that up with an 0-for-6 against the L.A. Clippers on Monday.Wright made four of his first five shots against Phoenix, scoring 11 points through 24 minutes, helping lead the Warriors to a 59-45 halftime lead.Wright finished 23 points on 7-for-11 from the field.

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

OAKLAND -- No one among the Warriors had a deeper desire to beat the Cavaliers than Stephen Curry, and his performance Monday gave every indication that he wanted it as badly as he needed it.

And after losing the point-guard battle to Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving in four successive games, all Warriors losses, it was past time for Curry as the back-to-back MVP to stand up and make a statement.

His response was impressive: 20 points (7-of-20 shooting), 11 assists, four steals and a 126-91 rout by the Warriors. He was plus-23 over 31 minutes.

“He was making shots, it’s as simple as that,” Irving said. “In transition, off pick-and-rolls, doing what he does and that makes him a great player.”

Irving’s response: 17 points (6-of-19 shooting), two assists and a game-high-tying (with teammate LeBron James) six turnovers. Irving was minus-12 over 29 minutes.

“Steph was great,” coach Steve Kerr said. “A phenomenal first half, I think he had 10 assists. His energy was great and he set the tone. He put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

Curry has been playing with renewed vigor lately, his mentality changing shortly after the Warriors on Christmas Day in Cleveland blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, taking a 109-108 loss. Curry took only 11 shots, scoring 15 points.

He was particularly good in the first half, scoring 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, with 10 assists and three steals. Curry clearly came to destroy.

“It was a great way to start, just a foot on the gas pedal,” Curry said.

Curry’s game, along with the victory, may silence some of the narrative suggesting the Cavaliers have his number. Though he was displeased with one aspect of his game, Curry happily accepted the outcome. Or that Irving hadn't caught up to him.

“I obviously wanted to play well; I didn’t want to walk off the floor with anything more than what I think is a solid, aggressive game,” he said. “I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I wanted to. Some shots I normally make didn’t go down.

But I can live with that knowing I took care of the other stuff I was supposed to do on the floor. Really, what was all in my head was that I definitely wanted to leave this arena tonight with a solid performance and obviously get the win.”

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

OAKLAND -- There was a single play Monday night that delighted Warriors fans more than any other in a 126-91 win over the Cavaliers, and it was not any of five 3-point bombs dropped by Oracle Arena favorite Stephen Curry.

Nor was it the high-velocity collision between Draymond Green and LeBron James, which resulted in Green being assessed with a Flagrant Foul 1 and the Warriors cranking up their intensity to another level.

No, the most satisfying play of all was on defense, and it was made by offensive wizard Kevin Durant, who sent a resounding message to the Cavaliers and, moreover, to James, Cleveland’s superstar forward.

With 9:48 left in the third quarter and James driving in for a dunk, Durant responded by rising up and cleanly stuffing the shot, sending James sprawling helplessly to the floor as the Warriors gained possession and raced the other way.

“That block at the rim was definitely great,” Draymond Green said. “If LeBron dunks on him right there, the momentum swings, he’s excited and everything can possibly swing. Yeah, he made a stand. Got a big block for us and we got off to the races. That puts momentum completely in our favor.”

With the crowd pumping up the volume, the Warriors, already in control, finished the job. And don’t think Durant isn’t aware of the effect such a play has.

“Yeah, especially when you’re at home, when you get a block against anybody, the crowd is into the game and they really enjoy that,” he said. “Around the league now, in every arena, fans are starting to respect defense. They can sense that it’s a momentum shift when you get a big block or a huge steal or a block.”

It also put momentum, on a personal level, in Durant’s favor. Despite the fact that Curry has won the last two MVP awards, it’s widely believed that James and Durant are the top two players in the NBA.

James has three championship rings, while Durant has none. James has four MVP awards, to one for Durant. When the two met in the 2012 NBA Finals, when Durant was with the Thunder and James with the Heat, Miami won in five games.

Durant, who entered the league four years after James, is at the point in his career that he believes he’s ready for anything James may have. Furthermore, since coming to the Warriors last summer, Durant clearly embraces the opportunity to beat James.

Durant posted 36 points and 15 rebounds when the teams met in Cleveland on Christmas Day, and posted 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals on Monday. KD, on an individual basis, is now 2-0 this season against LeBron.

“Guarding one of the best players in the league, and somebody that can score in different ways and impact the game from different ways, whether it’s in transition or the pick-and-roll or (isolation), I just tried to stay locked in and relied on my teammates,” Durant said.