Monta Ellis has heard since the start of training camp that the Warriors were his team. Officially, though, his era may have started Friday night at Oracle Arena.
Ellis was a dynamo at both ends of the floor against the Portland Trail Blazers, finishing with a season-high 34 points, eight assists and six steals in a 108-94 win that easily ranks as Golden State's most impressive of the season.
Ellis hit 13 of 28 shots in 48 minutes, but he also held the Blazers' Brandon Roy to 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting as the Warriors snapped a three-game losing streak. Golden State earned its first victory this season over a team with a winning record, and it has also now beaten the Trail Blazers nine straight times at home.
"That's as good as I've seen him on both sides of the ball," Warriors coach Don Nelson said of Ellis.
The Warriors started the game double-teaming Roy but were able to let Ellis guard him one-on-one for most of the game. Roy, the former Washington Huskies star, had just seven points in the second half, and Golden State held an opponent under 100 points for this first time this season.
"I was more energetic than anything," Ellis said. "I really wanted to go out and get this win, and I know that he was a big key for them to even have a chance of winning. So I just took him out of the game. The rest of our players stuck with the game plan and did what they had to do."
Ellis had 19 points and five assists by halftime as the Warriors rallied from a nine-point deficit with 5:32 to go in the second quarter to take a 56-52 lead at the break. Portland made 13 of its first 19 shots but was just 13-of-38 from the field over the next two quarters.
Despite the loss of small forward Travis Outlaw, sidelined for the next three to five months after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot, the Trail Blazers figured to have an advantage on the inside.
Center Greg Oden finished with 16 points and six rebounds for the Blazers, but the Warriors did just enough to limit big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Przybilla, who combined for 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
Newly signed forward/center Chris Hunter made his NBA debut in the second half and was effective in containing Oden, who was held to five points after halftime.
Hunter, 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds, played 14 minutes and had four points and three rebounds but was the only player on Golden State's depleted bench who could physically match up with Oden, who's 7-foot, 270 pounds.
"I've never seen him before, never met him before, but that guy belongs in the NBA," Nelson said of Hunter. "Hopefully we can find some way to keep him. He's probably stronger than anybody I have at that position. ... He's going to fit in nicely with what we're looking for."
Anthony Randolph had just two points in the first quarter and had all kinds of problems trying to contain Oden, who scored seven of his 11 first-quarter points after Randolph entered the game.
But Randolph found a rhythm in the second quarter. With Oden on the bench in favor of Przybilla, Randolph finished the first half with eight points and five rebounds, including an emphatic dunk with 33 seconds left in the half to give the Warriors a 56-50 lead.
Randolph's dunk was part of a 17-4 Warriors run to end the first half.
Golden State scored 13 of the first 19 points in the second half, as Anthony Morrow's 3-pointer off an assist from Stephen Curry gave the Warriors a 69-58 lead with less than seven minutes left in the third quarter. Like Ellis, Curry finished with eight assists.
"If that's what people want to say, that it's my team, hey it's my team. But I've got soldiers behind me who are ready to go with me," Ellis said. "We're all going to put it together and make this one big, old happy family."