If there was anyone to describe Monta Ellis’ 17-point explosion in the 4th quarter, I would have to say "Michael Jordan."
To utter "Jordan" is sacrilegious. It’s even more disturbing that I am putting the greatest of all time in the same sentence as the Warriors, especially since I’m not framing it as "Jordan defeats Warriors."
But Ellis’ dismantled the Memphis Grizzlies zone defense, what to that point had been impenetrable, by beating players off the dribble. To every Grizzlies bucket scored, Ellis had a response, each one even more jaw dropping than the previous. Ellis beat Gasol off the dribble for a tough lay-up. The next possession, the Warriors offense sputtered yet again, but a lucky bounce to Ellis turned into a fade away 21 footer from near the top of the key, which hit nothing but the bottom of the net.
It was possibly the greatest display of effortless offensive domination on the Warriors court, which surprisingly did not come from a visiting superstar (Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony come to mind).
From beginning to end Ellis did not let up and was unfazed by the run that the Grizzlies mounted in his absence between the end of the third quarter and when he checked in during the 4th.
After seemingly putting the game away midway through the third quarter off a barrage of 3-point field goals by Dorell Wright (7-13 from downtown, 25 points total), the Warriors suddenly saw their lead dwindle from 18 down to 8 in a matter of minutes. The Grizzlies got easy steals off lazy passes and made up the difference quickly in transition.
The Grizzlies size brought challenges to the Warriors front line, especially in the second half. As the Grizzlies intensity picked up, backup forward Sam Young and back up center Hasheem Thabeet provided a spark of the bench and clearly wore out David Lee, Andris Biedrins, and Vladimir Randmanovic who were already dealing with Darrell Arthur, Rudy Gay, and Marc Gasol.
The Grizzlies packed the paint and the Warriors luckily survived shooting 41% from the field.
It was definitely a strange win given the disparity in shooting percentage, which could be attributed to the committed defensive effort by the bench, as Rodney Carney and Radmanovic sent away 5 of the 9 total blocks.
And in spite of all the discussion of whether Reggie Williams could handle the point and be a scorer, he responded with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 assists. He did so on 5-11 shooting and 2-4 from downtown.