Warriors continue to lose without Ellis in the lineup

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UPDATE 4:01 pm: This experiment is over: According to the twitter account of Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area (and you should believe everything you read on twitter) Monta Ellis participated in shoot around and is a go for tonight against the Trail Blazers.

2:25 pm: When Monta Ellis went down with an injury after playing 43 minutes and shooting 6-22 from the field against the Denver Nuggets, some people thought that the Warriors might actually play better without Ellis in the lineup. Ellis has been the leading scorer for the Warriors this season, but he has used a lot of shots and turned the ball over many times on his way to getting his points. According to 82games.com, the Warriors have played much, much better during the brief periods Ellis has sat this season. Of course, as Ellis almost never sits, there was no way to know how the Warriors would play if Ellis actually started missing entire games. 

With Ellis sidelined for the last six games, the Warriors got a chance to see how well they could do with other players replacing Ellis 22 shot attempts per game. Things could’ve gone better. The Warriors beat the Pistons at Oracle to win their first game playing without Ellis, but have subsequently gone 0-5 on their road trip. 
The problem with the Warriors during their current losing streak has been their defense. The Warriors held the Pistons to 88 points during their first game without Ellis; since then, they have given up 100 points in all five of their losses, and the only team who failed to score 110 or more was the Charlotte Bobcats. 
It’s hard to evaluate whether or not the Warriors have played better without Ellis, since the Warriors are so bad they could easily have been playing better and still losing, especially on the road. In the 11 games the Warriors have played without Ellis this season, they have won all three games they played at home and lost all eight of the games they have played on the road. There are a myriad of reasons why the Warriors have lost so much this season. It doesn’t look like the play of Monta Ellis has been the biggest one. 

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.