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News » Buzzer-kill


All the moves were there from Monta Ellis, the shifty crossovers and pull-up runners, the fearless drives and finger-roll finishes. Even the flashy dunk was there.

In the end, however, the return of the Warriors' Most Exciting Player was trumped by the resilience of arguably the NBA's Most Valuable Player.

LeBron James, after a quiet second half, drilled a 19-foot jumper as the game clock expired to send the Warriors to their second straight heartbreaker, a 106-105 defeat that spoiled Ellis' impressive return Friday.

"Great players make great shots at the end to win games," said Ellis, who finished with 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting in his 34-minute season debut.

Golden State had been burned on the last possession in Wednesday's loss to Oklahoma City when Jeff Green banked in a jumper at the buzzer, and the Warriors met a similar fate again two days later.

Stephen Jackson's jumper over James gave the Warriors a one-point lead with 6.5 seconds remaining, but after Ellis poked away the Cavs' ensuing inbounds pass and forced them to reset their final possession, James crossed up the Warriors' defense and delivered the game-winner over Ronny Turiaf.

James finished with 32 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocked shots.

"I'll take that shot from LeBron. It hurts more from Jeff Green, that glass shot," said Jackson, who led the Warriors with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. "But we played well the first game with Monta back and it shows signs of how good this team can be."

Though the Warriors' hopes of seeing their core together for the first time this season was dashed just before tip-off, when guard Jamal Crawford was scratched due to a right hamstring contusion, Ellis nonetheless put the run back into Golden State's run-and-gun offense.

The Warriors scored 36 fast break points, and Ellis certainly wasn't afraid to attack inside, putting his head down and attempting to blow by any and all Cavs defenders in his way.

Ellis showed much of his renowned quickness and explosiveness, and his ability to finish off finger rolls and bank in baby runners was clearly undiminished.

Among his early highlights: Juking Mo Williams and absorbing a body bump to hit a 12-foot fadeaway, then blocking Williams on the other end about 30 seconds later.

More importantly, Ellis popped up time and again from his plucky drives and spills to the floor. The most encouraging sign might have come in the fourth quarter, when Ellis cut to the basket, took a pass from Jackson, and effortlessly slammed home a one-handed dunk with 6:53 left to give the Warriors a 91-90 lead - their first of the second half.

"It's a blessing that he can come back from an injury like that and be the same Monta Ellis everyone knows," said rookie Anthony Morrow, who started in place of Crawford and continued his breakout season with 19 points, running his streak of three-pointers made to seven before missing in the third.

For the Warriors, though, it was a bittersweet return.

"It would have been nice if we'd gotten the win," Ellis said.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 24, 2009


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