DALLAS — Guards Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and Anthony Morrow. Forwards Anthony Randolph and Vladimir Radmanovic, and center Mikki Moore.
That's all it took, six players, for the Warriors to score their biggest win of the season, a 111-103 upset of the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. Six guys, an assistant coach in the big chair and a spirited, unified brand of basketball.
The Warriors came back from nine points down with just over six minutes left in the game to post their first winning streak of the 2009-10 season. That's four straight impressive performances since trading swingman Stephen Jackson to the Charlotte Bobcats.
"This win went out to our man in charge," said assistant coach Keith Smart, who filled in for pneumonia-ridden head coach Don Nelson. "Our guys pulled together for him. ... Coming into this game, we had nothing to lose. We were loose. We could play the way we needed to play. Worst case scenario, they blow us out and we move on to San Antonio."
Though Nelson was in the Bay Area resting, he still gets credit for the victory and is 19 wins away from becoming the NBA's all-time winningest coach.
The Warriors had eight men ready to play. But forward Corey Maggette, who is laboring through an injured left hamstring, did not play. Smart said he didn't like the matchups and wanted to stick with a three-guard lineup. Smart also decided not to use center Chris Hunter, the NBA Development League call-up who
Instead, Golden State had three men play 48 minutes — Ellis, Morrow and Radmanovic — for the first time since Nov. 25, 1964, at Boston when Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond and Guy Rodgers did it. The Warriors became the third team since the 1976-77 merger to play with six players.
Fortunately for the Warriors they did have Ellis, who set a season high with 37 points on 15-for-29 shooting to go with eight assists. He took advantage of Dallas' lack of shot-blockers by penetrating almost at will.
Cramps overtook his calves in the fourth quarter, but he managed to score 13 points in the third quarter.
"See a guy giving it his all, leading us where we're trying to go," said rookie guard Stephen Curry, who scored 11 of his 18 points in the final 3:51. "He's fighting through pain. It's a mission for us to get stops for him and try to finish the game and make that effort worthwhile."
Morrow, who set his season high with 27 points to go with nine rebounds and five assists, nailed a 3-pointer at the six-minute mark to pull the Warriors to within 98-92. That started a 22-5 Golden State run to close the game.
About a minute after Morrow's shot, Curry sneaked a lob behind the defense to Randolph for a two-hand dunk. Then Curry nailed a 19-footer, tying the game at 98 with 3:51 remaining.
Moments later, Ellis pushed the ball upcourt to Curry, who nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Warriors the lead for good 103-100. Ellis sent the 20,008 fans scurrying for the exits by turning a Radmanovic steal into a driving layup.
Then all the smiles came out. Once again, the Warriors shared the ball, played defense and displayed resiliency. It is becoming a staple of the post-Jackson Warriors.
"We're having fun again," Ellis said. "That's what we're doing, we're having fun, playing together as a team. There's a whole different vibe we have right now."