Despite Warriors 121-112 Loss To Rockets, Ekpe Udoh Shines

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Ekpe Udoh Highlights From Warriors Versus Rockets

For those that didn't catch Ekpe Udoh's crowd cheering, drink spilling, scream at the top of your lungs play from last night, here it is. I'm reserving my excitement of Udoh for a long time because, hey, Ike Diogu had a couple monster game where he looked like the smoothest big man you had ever seen. Udoh didn't look that smooth at all. But he looked like he had heart. Via Golden State of Mind Linkage, see for yourself:

Ekpe Udoh (via gumbyorpokey)

In the span of about 10 seconds in the fourth quarter, Udoh not only slams in a miss by Monta Ellis, but then races down in the opposite direction to block Courtney Lee who had sprinted out in transition. In what most likely would have been a huge buzz kill to Ellis' shot prior, Udoh managed a stop and more importantly allowed us fans to go NUTS. 

Both rookies Jeremy Lin and Udoh checked into the game with the Warriors lead starting to slip and they both played their part by hustling for boards and loose balls. Jeremy Lin still looked a apprehensive, but was the Warriors best rebounder during that fourth quarter stretch (even if his stats don't say so). Udoh, too, ran the floor and got back on defense like he actually wanted to. In that 10 second span, he almost looked like Lebron James as he electrified the crowd with athleticism and determination on both ends of the floor. 

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NBA Scores and Standings: Mapping the Western Conference - December 20, 2010

Recap of Monday's Western Conference Action:

Milwaukee Bucks 80 @ Portland Trail Blazers 106

Things did not go well for the Bucks in their first game without Brandon Jennings, to say the least. John Salmons was the only Buck to score over 12 points as LaMarcus Aldridge had a field day down low (29 points & a career-high 19 rebounds) and the Brandon Roy-less Blazers cruised to their third consecutive victory. Marcus Camby sat out his second straight game with a "sore right shoulder", but Aldridge more than made up for Camby's absence with his career day on the boards. Meanwhile, the Bucks shot a poor .380 from the field and never really had a chance in this one. With Jennings out for at least the next four weeks with a broken foot, the Bucks will rely on some combination of journeyman/perennial backup Keyon Dooling and the always exciting Earl Boykins to run the show. In other words, just when Bucks fans thought that nothing could be worse than cheering for a sub-.400 team, they realized that cheering for a sub-.400 team without its best player is indeed...slightly worse.

Utah Jazz 101 @ Cleveland Cavaliers 90

Deron Williams (17 points & 10 assists) and Al Jefferson (16 points & 13 rebounds) both double-doubled as the Jazz defeated the Cavs in the Battle of Carlos Boozer's Exes. The career year continues for C.J. Miles as he led the Jazz with 22 points off the bench. Daniel Gibson had a game-high 29 points for the Cavs, including 7-for-8 from downtown, while Mo Williams had a solid statistical game (16 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds) despite some poor shooting (5-for-15 from the field). The Jazz improve to 6-4 in December, with their four losses coming against tough opponents (vs. Dallas, vs. Miami, @ Dallas, and @ New Orleans).

New Orleans Hornets 93 @ Indiana Pacers 94

Mike Dunleavy tipped in Danny Granger's miss at the buzzer to give the Pacers the one point victory. Emeka Okafor double-doubled with 19 points and 15 boards and completely shut down Roy Hibbert (2 points on 1-for-10 shooting), but it was not enough as Granger poured in 27 points and former Hornet Darren Collison exacted revenge against his former team with 18 points. It was an off night for Chris Paul, who scored 16 points but managed only four assists and four rebounds against six turnovers. Overall, the Hornets shot .398 on the night, while the Pacers shot .425. Both teams are now 4-7 in December.

Dallas Mavericks 98 @ Miami Heat 96

This week's Game of the Week saw the Mavs end the Heat's 12-game winning streak for their 15th win in 16 games. Behind Dallas's own Big 3 - Dirk Nowitzki (26 points), Jason Terry (19 points), and ... Caron Butler? (13 points) - the Mavs beat a Heat team that actually had more players (five to three) score in double figures and got solid nights from the "real" Big 3 (Dwyane Wade had 22 points while LeBron James and Chris Bosh each scored 19). Miami missed some crucial FTs, though, as they were only 17-for-25 (.680) on the night, including 11-for-18 (.611) by the Big 3. Dallas has now won three in a row and takes on the Magic in Orlando on Tuesday.

Phoenix Suns 110 @ San Antonio Spurs 118

There's just no stopping the Spurs. As the Suns awaited the arrival of Vince Carter, Jared Dudley went off for a game-high 27 points and Steve Nash double-doubled with 17 points and 10 assists, but all to no avail as the Spurs extended their winning streak to nine games and improved to 24-3 on the season. The Spurs saw the Suns' Dudley and raised them a Gary Neal, who had a team-high 22 points off the bench. Tim Duncan put on a clinic against the Suns' bigs (20 points, 15 boards, 6 assists), as Channing Frye (1-for-10 shooting) went completely dead in the water (though former Stanford man Robin Lopez had a respectable 14/7 night on 5-for-5 shooting). In the end, the Spurs, who had six players score in double figures, including all five starters, adjusted to the Suns' high scoring ways and beat them at their own game.

Minnesota Timberwolves 90 @ LA Clippers 113

The Clippers are on a winning streak. It is official - Hell has frozen over. Behind a monster night from Eric Gordon (36 points) and twin double-doubles from Blake Griffin and Ryan Gomes (22 points and 10 rebounds), the Clippers followed up their surprising win against the Bulls in Chicago with a beatdown - yes, I just used "beatdown" to describe something the Clippers did to someone else - of the melting T-Wolves. Michael Beasley led the Timberwolves with 20 points (albeit on 6-for-19 shooting), Kevin Love had a modest double-double with 12 + 10, and Martell Webster scored 18 points off the bench, but it was not enough as Minnesota fell for the sixth straight game and dropped to 2-10 in December. With their first winning streak of the season, let Clippers fans' "Playoffs or Bust" chants begin!

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Observations From Oracle + Other Tips: Andris Biedrins, Dan Gadzuric, and Dorell Wright Drive Nice Whips

I returned to the bay area and luckily was able to score some free luxury box seat tickets. With that, I got to park in the "Player's Lot." So here's what I got to observe in my return to the Oracle. Eyewitness!

1. If you have VIP access through the player's parking, you can bring in whatever you want and they won't make you throw it away.

2. The Oracle no longer serves malt ice cream. When did this happen?

3. The Warriors need to work on finishing at the rim or at least their tip-ins. I don't know how many missed second chances point the Warriors could not capitalize on. Either that or there was just a lot of blown 3-5 foot runners in the paint that the Warriors kept rattling in and out.

4. Learn how to throw outlet passes, please!!! On at least 5 separate occasions, the Warriors blew great box out efforts by pure carelessness advancing the ball to the front court. Dorell Wright, Vladimir Radmanovic and several others got picked in the back court (typically by someone smaller than them) or through it directly at a Rockets players.

The problem? Well, instead of perhaps closing the gap or advancing the lead, the Warriors gave up points either by having to foul (or flagrant foul in Radmanovic's case). Take some tips from this guy:

5. The Warriors have upgraded their food vendor signs! The food is marginally better looking with the cohesiveness of the signage. But the prices are still ridiculous.

6. Dan Gadzuric loves American muscle cars and Andris Biedrins drives a Bentley. I believe Dorell Wright rolls around in cream and clean Porsche (it had a Florida license plate).

7. The Jeremy Lin fandom at the Oracle is crazy. I had heard about it before, but I am impressed by how intense it was. No wonder this guy is nervous all the time. But Lin had a nice outing and he should have gotten a call on at least one of his shots where he clearly got pushed from behind by Luis Scola. Also, Lin might be the Warriors best offensive rebounder or most alert players to loose balls on offense and defense.

8. Ekpe Udoh is learning but looks like he's got some tools. His offense isn't the prettiest, but his nice putback slam is what the Warriors desperately need on a roster full of people who can't put back shots at all. Both him and Lin had ESPN highlight worthy blocks. Together, the rookies provided the most defensive intensity I've seen from the Warriors since ... never.

9. The Warriors starters couldn't match up with the Rockets' starters. After the Warriors subbed out Udoh and Lin with 5 minutes remaining in the fourth, the Rockets quickly began running up the score. Not only that, but the turnovers and mental errors of poor defensive rotation and errant passing. Dorell Wright was absolutely terrible this game, offensively. Or rather, he is shooting his ‘norm' nowadays: 4-13.

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NBA Scores: Rockets Defeat Warriors 121-112 With Late 21-7 Run

Oakland, CA (Sports Network) – Kevin Martin scored 30 points and pulled down five rebounds, as the Houston Rockets held off the Golden State Warriors, 121-112, at Oracle Arena. Luis Scola added 20 points, nine boards and six assists for the Rockets, who have won three in a row and five of six overall. Shane Battier chipped in with 14 points and five assists.

Monta Ellis poured in 44 points and dished out seven assists for the Warriors, who have lost nine of 10. David Lee tallied 19 points and six rebounds. Golden State guard Stephen Curry missed his fifth straight game with an ankle injury.

Trailing by two, 96-94, with 6:10 to play, the Rockets put together a 21-7 run to claim victory. Martin got the surge started with a layup and three-pointer. Scola then made a hook shot to give Houston a 101-96 edge with 3:56 remaining. Ellis made a jumper and Lee recorded a three-point play around Martin’s slam to pull Golden State within two, 103-101, with 3:07 left.

Battier made a three-pointer to spark a 7-0 Houston flurry. Kyle Lowry and Martin each made two free throws during the small burst to give the Rockets a 110-101 lead. After Reggie Williams made a pair of free throws for the Warriors, Battier made a shot from beyond the arc and Martin made two foul shots for a 115-103 game with 51.2 seconds to go.

The first quarter ended in a 26-26 tie, and Houston led 50-46 at the half. The Rockets led by as many as 10 in the third, but took an 81-75 margin into the fourth. The Warriors started the fourth on a 16-6 run to take a 91-87 lead with 8:05 remaining.

The Rockets have won 14 of 19 and 15 of the last 21 meetings between the teams…Houston made 26-of-34 shots from the charity stripe, while Golden State made 19-of-27…Lowry had 13 points and eight assists.

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