Warriors world was abuzz much of Wednesday with talk of potential new ownership. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, for the first time, acknowledged publicly at a company meeting that he wanted to buy the Warriors.
That was before the 123-110 spanking Golden State received at the hands of the New Orleans Hornets.
Wednesday's performance by the Warriors might've been ugly enough to make even the billionaire software mogul think twice. One night after clawing from behind in a heartbreaking loss at Sacramento, Golden State looked sluggish and discombobulated. Not even the return of Warriors guard Monta Ellis, who missed the previous two games with a sprained right ankle, was enough to save the Warriors from a whipping at the hands of Hornets guard Chris Paul, who had 38 points and nine assists.
"I was pretty surprised," said Warriors coach Don Nelson, whose team has lost seven of its past nine games. "With Monta back, I thought we would play with a lot of energy. Just not a very good performance by us, or a good effort."
The Warriors fought to within an inkling of a chance in the final minutes, giving faint hope to the remnants of 16,308 fans. The trio of rookie guard Stephen Curry, NBA Development League call-up Anthony Tolliver and forward Devean George combined for 21 points in the fourth quarter. After Golden State had trailed by as much as 27, Ellis went to the line inside of two minutes and the Warriors down 118-107.
But unlike Tuesday's late rally in the loss at Sacramento, this run turned out to be a whimper of a comeback. Ellis made the first but missed the second. Tolliver got the rebound, but the ball — and the Warriors' slim chance at victory — was yanked away by Hornets forward David West, who ended with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Ellis finished with 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds in 43 minutes. He said he felt great and made sure to point out it was his right ankle that he injured, not the surgically repaired left ankle that kept him out most of last season.
"As a team," Curry said, "our energy was kind of low (Wednesday), coming off the back-to-back and being limited in numbers. (Ellis) brought some energy early. We just couldn't sustain it long enough to make this game anywhere near competitive. But we're definitely glad he's back on the court, and hopefully we can make strides and get our chemistry back with him on the floor."
Certainly, Ellis is one of the reasons Ellison wants to purchase the team from Chris Cohan, who owns 80 percent of the franchise. Warriors team president Robert Rowell dismissed the hype as media speculation, saying that right now, "there's not much to this." Multiple team sources said Ellison has not made a formal offer to the Warriors.
So perhaps it's a good thing Ellison didn't come watch the Warriors on Wednesday, as he did Jan. 11 when LeBron James was in town. Ellison would've seen the face of the franchise grossly outshined by Paul, the more likely of the two to be announced as an All-Star reserve today.
Paul, who did have seven turnovers, scored 14 points in the third quarter as the Hornets pulled away, turning a seven-point halftime lead into a 24-point advantage.
"Not much you can say," Ellis said of Paul's performance. "Stats speak for themselves. It was his night. He was on. He was hitting everything. He was getting to the basket. Nothing more you can say."