The Warriors' star guards led Golden State to a 99-91 win Monday over the Chicago Bulls, the team's first win of the season and Mark Jackson's first victory as an NBA head coach.
Stephen Curry, before aggravating his surgically repaired sprained right ankle, totaled 21 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and six steals. Monta Ellis, still grieving the death of his grandmother on Christmas, had 26 points and seven assists.
"Those guys are scary, man," Dorell Wright said after adding 13 points. "Monta scores with the best in the league. And Steph's game is so smooth, he's a tough cover. When they're playing like that, it makes everyone else's job a little easier."
Both Curry and Ellis struggled in the season opener. Curry missed three practices after spraining his right ankle last Tuesday in an exhibition game at Sacramento. He decided pregame he would play Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers and wound up missing 10 of 12 shots and finished with four points and five turnovers.
Ellis, who is also dealing with a sexual harassment lawsuit, needed 19 shots to get 15 points against the Clippers. He totaled four turnovers.
But Monday's performance was much more like the backcourt that Warriors fans have grown to love.
Both Ellis and Curry penetrated instead of settling for jump shots, which resulted in good looks and free throws (they made 11 of 13 combined). They both also set up their teammates.
Curry scored 15 points
Curry tried to walk it off but was taken out with 5:52 to play and never returned. After the game, he had X-rays to make sure the ankle surgery that he had in May held up.
"It was comforting for me that it wasn't one of those just planting and moving kind of injuries like I had in Sac," Curry said. "It's still frustrating that this keeps coming up."
With Curry out, Ellis took control. He scored seven points in the fourth quarter, stunting the Bulls' comeback bid.
Inside of five minutes left, he got free for a breakaway dunk. Then, after the Bulls cut the deficit to single digits on a Luol Deng 3-pointer, Ellis dropped in a finger roll from the baseline. Golden State led 93-83 with 4:01 left. Chicago never got closer than seven the rest of the way, securing Jackson's first win.
"It means something because I dreamt of this moment," Jackson said. "I told the guys I didn't see the guys in uniform, but I thank God it was them because of their commitment, their focus and their dedication. ... This win was truly theirs. They earned this one."
For the second straight game, Rush was the most-used reserve. Monday, he totaled five points, three rebounds and two blocks in over 26 minutes. Sunday, he logged over 28 minutes.
"He's earned those minutes from the first day he came to this team," Jackson said. "He's not going to hurt you. He's going to make solid plays. He's going to rebound the basketball and he's going to battle defensively. ... There's a reason why we wanted him."
Rush -- who is 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds -- was acquired from the Pacers on Dec. 19 for forward Lou Amundson, improving the Warriors' depth on the wing.
In his fourth year out of Kansas, Rush has the defensive mindset that Jackson wants. Sunday, he had two blocks and a steal. Monday, with 2:35 left, he prevented a C.J. Watson layup, giving the Warriors a critical stop.
"My main thing is defense," said Rush, who is in the final year of his rookie contract ($2.9 million). "Scoring will come. I just focus on defense and getting key stops."
He's also a 3-point shooter (a career 40 percent shooter from behind the arc) and Jackson called him an underrated rebounder.
"You have to pick and choose when you can do it," Jackson said of his small lineup.