OKLAHOMA CITY — Warriors guard Monta Ellis said it wasn't too much to ask of him.
In Monday's 104-88 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Ellis played 48 minutes, scored 31 points, took more than a third of the shots and defended 6-foot-9 small forward Kevin Durant, the Thunder's best player.
Not too much?
"It is what it is," Ellis said, giving his usual postgame responses and adding he would carry the load "however many times I need to do it."
The sentiment in the locker room, however, is practically unanimous: Ellis can't do it alone.
"It's a lot to ask of a guy," rookie guard Stephen Curry said after scoring a career-high 22 points. "I think he'll take that challenge every night, but I think it's up to us help him out. ... It's up to us to have his back on both ends."
The Warriors didn't have guard Anthony Morrow, whose return from a funeral in North Carolina was stalled by flight delays. Then forward Corey Maggette was ejected late in the third quarter. Add in a far-less-effective Anthony Randolph than the version seen against the Orlando Magic on Saturday, and guess where the heavy lifting fell?
Ellis shouldered much of it. His frustration was palpable as his teammates missed shots and was especially so after center Mikki Moore dropped Ellis' pass in the lane. Ellis responded by trying to go one-on-Oklahoma City.
The result was a season-low for the Warriors in points and assists (12) and a 43.4 percent shooting night. Add that to 20 turnovers (nine by Ellis) and 20 fewer rebounds than the opponent, and it's a wonder the Warriors didn't lose by more.
Assistant coach Keith Smart, who is filling as head coach on this road trip while Don Nelson recovers from pneumonia, said Ellis forced too many plays as a result of his frustration. He said "without a question," the onus is on the coaches to manufacture some help.
"He's only 180 pounds and we ask him to guard the best player, play 45 to 48 minutes, and then also attack offensively against teams that are trapping," Smart said. "So we've got to address that a little bit, get somebody else playing well enough. I thought we had that going with Maggette. But losing him, you really had nothing you could possibly do."
Ellis had 18 points and Maggette 11, and the Thunder was shooting 39.5 percent from the field, when the Warriors entered halftime trailing 50-49. But another poor third quarter was already in motion when Maggette was ejected with 4:07 left for arguing with official Derek Richardson.
Oklahoma City was in the middle of a 17-5 run that spanned the last 5:30 of the quarter. The Warriors were 5-for-16 from the field in the third quarter with one assist. Ellis was 1-for-6 with three turnovers.
Meanwhile, Durant got going for a stretch by getting to the free throw line. He scored 11 of his 28 during the run, and the Warriors never recovered.
"We just kept standing," Ellis said after topping 40 minutes for the 10th time in the past 13 games. "We really weren't creating plays for others and then when we did we weren't knocking down shots. ... What can I say? We left it all out there."
With just over five minutes left in the game, and the Warriors down 16, Ellis nailed a pull-up 13-footer. On the ensuing defensive series, Durant found himself wide open under the basket. But before he could dunk it, Ellis came flying in to block the shot out of bounds.
He certainly left it all out there. But even for Ellis, it may be too much.