Game Day: Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors (1/7/12)
By Matt Becker
Posted Jan 07 2012 2:42AM
Although he is sometimes labeled as selfish, Golden State's Monta Ellis has developed into one of the league's premier scorers over the past few seasons.
He hasn't looked like one, however, against the Utah Jazz on the Warriors' home floor.
Ellis hopes for better luck against the Jazz at Oracle Arena in 2012 in their first meeting of the season Saturday night.
Ellis has finished in the top eight in scoring each of the previous two seasons, and is off to another strong start, averaging a team-high 22.8 points for Golden State (2-5). He finished with 18 points, 10 assists and five steals Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers, but it wasn't enough as the Warriors fell 97-90, their fourth straight defeat.
Golden State was playing without guard Stephen Curry, who sprained his right ankle in Wednesday's six-point loss to San Antonio, and his status for this game is uncertain.
Although Ellis is fully capable of taking over games offensively - like he did against the Spurs, scoring 38 - he has struggled mightily to find his shooting touch lately against Utah at Oracle Arena.
Ellis is averaging 11.3 points on 23.9 percent shooting in four home games against the Jazz over the previous two seasons. In the other 76 home games he has played since 2009-10, Ellis is averaging 26.8 points on 45.8 percent from the field.
With Ellis combining for 25 points on 10 of 31 shooting at home against the Jazz last season, Curry picked up the scoring slack, totaling 47 points to lead the Warriors to a pair of wins. Golden State, which lost both home games to Utah in 2009-10, took three of four in last season's series.
The Jazz (4-3) head to the Bay Area after defeating Memphis 94-85 on Friday to cap a perfect three-game homestand. Al Jefferson had 20 points and nine rebounds and Paul Millsap scored 14 on 7 of 9 shooting for Utah, which forced 20 turnovers and limited the Grizzlies to 38 second-half points. The Jazz also blocked 10 shots, raising their NBA-leading average to 7.9 per game.
"I thought our defense was about as good as I've seen it from one to five," coach Ty Corbin said. "The stuff we did on the defensive end was really encouraging."
Corbin will likely be even more encouraged if his team can carry that success to the road.
While the Jazz have won all four of their games in Salt Lake City, they've been outscored by an average of 19.0 points in losing their three road games. They're surrendering an average of 105.7 points on the road compared to 86.8 at home.
Utah could have better luck defensively against the Warriors, who are averaging 90.3 points under first-year coach Mark Jackson, fifth-worst in the league.
The Jazz hope to take advantage of Golden State's offensive struggles and notch a fourth straight victory for the first time since a seven-game run from Nov. 20-Dec. 1, 2010.
"Everything is going the right direction. I feel like we're just scratching the surface," guard Earl Watson said. "The positive energy on the team is just amazing."
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