Spurs overcome Ellis' 42 points, win 3rd straight
SAN ANTONIO -- There's a sign in the Spurs locker room with printed words that are well known to anyone who's visited over the years.
The words describe the experience of the stone cutter who finds a rock that usually doesn't break apart with one blow. It takes many strikes with the chisel.
The Golden State Warriors were a rock of endurance for 2½ quarters Wednesday, going basket-for-basket with the Spurs just a night after playing with six players -- and winning -- in Dallas. But even Monta Ellis began to fade -- he scored 14 after halftime but had 28 first-half points -- and the Spurs finally shattered the Warriors with a 118-104 victory at AT&T Center.
"I think three of their guys played 48 minutes last night, so we knew they would get tired," said Tony Parker, who scored a season-high 32 points. "We wanted to keep attacking, and we knew that somewhere in the game they would miss three, four, five shots in a row and we would get a lead."
After the Warriors hung in there and forced 21 lead changes through the first 31½ minutes, Parker's idea finally took hold. But it wasn't missed shots that doomed Golden State. The Warriors (5-9) committed four turnovers in the final 4½ minutes of the third quarter and watched a 78-77 lead turn into a 91-80 deficit in the final minute of the quarter.
The Warriors were only able to get off two shots during a 14-3 Spurs run that ended the third quarter. One of those was Michael Finley's block of Corey Maggette. Spurs reserve guard George Hill had two steals.
Ellis was one of those players who saw 48 minutes in the Warriors' 111-103 victory using six players against the Mavericks. He played 44 minutes against San Antonio (7-6).
But, being fourth in the league in minutes with almost 40 minutes a game, Ellis shrugged off the notion of fatigue. He was 12-for-15 in the first half, but he slipped to a 4-for-8 showing in the third quarter and picked up his first two fouls while playing his seventh-straight 12-minute quarter.
"If we just look back at that game, everything we did [to lose] we did," Ellis said. "We made mistakes, and them being a veteran team they converted on every mistake we made. They played hard and got plays at the end when they needed to and got the win. That's all we can say."
Parker was active enough to get to the foul line 17 times. And though Tim Duncan had another big night -- scoring 20 points off 10-for-12 shooting and adding 10 rebounds -- he was on the bench for the Spurs' decisive third-quarter run that put the game out of reach.
San Antonio, which has won three straight for the first time this season, has a 23-game homecourt winning streak over the Warriors. Golden State has not won in San Antonio since February 1997.
With Ellis breathing hard and the Warriors still without injured players like Kelenna Azubuike, Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf, there was nowhere to turn for a rally.
"Monta has had a couple of good games for us, but he just didn't have enough in the tank tonight," said Keith Smart, acting as Warriors coach for the second game while Don Nelson recuperates from pneumonia. "We needed someone else to play really good tonight for us to have a shot."
When Ellis was 12-for-15 at halftime, the rest of the Warriors were 10-for-28.
Ellis made the only basket for the Warriors when the Spurs closed out the third quarter, and his shot cut the Golden State deficit to 86-80. At that point, Ellis had 38 points, almost half of the Warriors' total.
Stephen Curry started 1-for-7 and finished 5-for-16. When he tried to lob a pass over to Ellis late in the third quarter, Hill picked up the loose ball and headed in for a layup before Ellis fouled him.
At that point, all five Warriors players showed the tell-tale sign of being tired. They all bent over and had to grab the bottom of their trunks to keep propped up. Everyone could tell by the fourth quarter the Warriors were gassed.
"Definitely," Parker said. "Even in the third quarter [you could tell] they were tired."
The Warriors can give thanks for their upcoming schedule. They have two days off.
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