HOUSTON — Warriors coach Don Nelson flew in from Dallas where he got treatment on his aching back, and made it in time for Tuesday's game against the Houston Rockets.
No doubt, by the 9:18 mark of the fourth quarter, when he subbed in little-used center Chris Hunter, Nelson had to be thinking he should've just stayed in Dallas. Because although his back is now fine, his eyes probably ache after watching the 119-97 punishment his Warriors endured at the hands of the Rockets.
"Win or lose, they're my guys," Nelson said. "It's my job to be here if I'm physically able. And I was. I'm feeling (pain) now."
Hard to tell if he was referring to his back from the rigors of coaching an NBA game, or to his ego after the Warriors lost their sixth straight. Golden State has trailed by as much as 19 points in each of its past three games.
Nelson said he was able to stand up straight and move around better. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the same was not true for forward Corey Maggette. He sat out Tuesday's game with a hip pointer.
So guard Monta Ellis was all alone.
Ellis scored 34 points on 13-for-22 shooting (59.1 percent). The rest of the Warriors managed 63 points on 28-for-76 shooting (36.8 percent). Golden State didn't get a second player in double figures until Stephen Curry's 3-pointer at the 3:08 mark of the fourth quarter gave him 11 points and put the Warriors down 109-89.
"We couldn't find it offensively," Curry
Ellis had 27 points in the first half as he all but single-handedly brought the Warriors back from a 21-point first-quarter deficit.
A three-point play by Rockets forward Carl Landry put Houston up 33-12 at the 2:23 mark of the first quarter. Ellis followed by totaling 23 points and two assists over the next 11 minutes, 36 seconds.
He started with a fast-break layup, cutting the Warriors' deficit to 33-16 late in the first quarter. He finished with a pull-up 3-pointer that trimmed the Rockets' lead to 50-49 with 2:17 left in the second quarter.
He did this with an aching right wrist, which he said just started hurting as it does from time to time.
"It was one of those games. What can I say?" said Ellis, whose wrist was covered in black tape. "I didn't know what to expect. As the game went on, (my wrist) kind of warmed up. I still had pain."
But the Rockets closed the second quarter with a 9-0 run to take a 59-49 lead into the locker room. Nelson went with the same lineup that got Golden State back in the game to start the second half — Ellis, center Andris Biedrins, forward Devean George, swingman Coby Karl and guard C.J. Watson. But Houston built its lead to 17 by the eight-minute mark.
Not even Ellis, who sat the final 9:18, could bring the Warriors back again. He was 3-for-5 with seven points in the second half.
"We were able to use the rope-a-dope on Ellis," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "He got so tired he didn't want to shoot anymore, so that worked."
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