Baron Davis and the Golden State Warriors have gushed about the improvement Monta Ellis has made. His development has certainly been evident against the Minnesota Timberwolves this season.
After getting another big game from Ellis, the Warriors look to win three straight for the first time in over a month as they visit the NBA-worst Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
Ellis, in his third year in the NBA after being drafted out of high school, is averaging a career-high 16.9 points per game for high-scoring Golden State (22-16). Ellis scored nine of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Warriors beat Indiana 106-101 on Sunday night, two days after finishing with 27 in a win over Memphis.
Now, Ellis and Golden State will try and win three straight for the first time since a six-game run from Nov. 23-Dec. 2.
"He's our fast break," Davis said of Ellis. "We all know we need him to be successful in the open court but I think his half court game has really matured. He understands when to attack and when to get the ball in the right peoples hands."
In two games against Minnesota (5-31) this season, Ellis is averaging 29.5 points while shooting 63.9 percent from the field to lead Golden State to wins in both contests. Ellis scored a career-high 35 points to go with six rebounds and four assists in the Warriors' 105-101 win over the Wolves on Dec. 26 in the teams' last meeting.
The 22-year-old guard, in his second year as a starter, also seems to be getting tougher. Though Ellis wouldn't acknowledge it, he appeared to be sparked Sunday by a flagrant foul committed against him by Jamaal Tinsley in the third quarter.
"Last year, a lot of times, Monta kept his head down after something like that," Golden State swingman Stephen Jackson said. "If you knocked him down, he wouldn't always get up as fast. Now, you can't keep him down."
Ellis, though, is averaging just 11.5 points in his last two road games - both Warriors losses - and Golden State is kicking off a stretch of four games in the Midwest in five nights. The Warriors are 11-8 on the road.
Minnesota, meanwhile, will be back at the Target Center following its 14th straight road loss, 105-88 to San Antonio on Saturday night. The Wolves won their last home game, beating Miami 101-91 on Tuesday night, but are 4-13 there on the season. They have lost 16 of their last 18 games overall.
"It doesn't matter if it's San Antonio, or who it is, we just have got to make sure we've got the consistent effort," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said.
Al Jefferson led the Timberwolves with 24 points on Saturday, a day after being held to six in a 113-82 loss to Houston. The fourth-year center is averaging 22.0 points and 16.5 rebounds in two games versus Golden State this season.
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