The Golden State Warriors are finding ways to win games with fourth-quarter rallies, and Monta Ellis has been a major reason for that.
Ellis looks to continue his torrid stretch by helping the Warriors to their longest winning streak in almost two years Monday night when they host the Philadelphia 76ers.
After losing their first 17 games when trailing after three quarters, Golden State (11-18) has overcome fourth-quarter deficits to win consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 8-10. The team hasn't won three in a row since April 1-5, 2009.
Ellis' recent play may be an indication that the Warriors are due to match that streak. The guard is third in the NBA with a career-high average of 26.0 points, but has been scoring at 35.8 per game while connecting on 52.1 percent of his shots over the last five games.
"He's our MVP," first-year coach Keith Smart said. "He's doing the job that's necessary for a player like him who can do so many things for a team. He's our MVP and he's moving into that selective group of players in the NBA that play at a high level every single night and that's what he's done."
Ellis has lived up to that hype lately, scoring 39 points while helping erase a six-point deficit with 5:08 to play in a 109-102 win over Portland on Saturday. That came four nights after he had 36 points as Golden State rallied from 16 down in the fourth quarter to win 117-109 in overtime at Sacramento.
"That's really the mark of a good team," said forward-center David Lee, who had 21 points and seven rebounds Saturday. "We have to find a way to win those games and grind a few of those out. If you can win those games, that's the difference of being a 35- or 40-win team or winning 50 games."
While Ellis is red hot, the Warriors may also get a boost from the return of fellow guard Stephen Curry. After missing six games with a sprained right ankle, Curry matched his season high with 11 assists against the Trail Blazers, but made only 2 of 15 shots for four points.
Curry is second on the team with an average of 19.3 points and the leader with 5.9 assists. He totaled 31 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists while the Warriors dropped both meetings with Philadelphia (12-18) last season.
Ellis is averaging 21.3 points over the last three home meetings with the 76ers, who are 2-2 on a season-high eight-game road trip.
The Sixers won't benefit from facing a short-handed opponent in Oakland after beating Denver 95-89 on Sunday as Carmelo Anthony was out for a third straight game due to the death of his sister.
Down 12 with 8:11 to play, Philadelphia ended the game on a 25-7 run.
"It happens in the NBA," said forward-center Elton Brand, who had 16 points and 17 rebounds for the 76ers. "Guys are out of the lineup and you have to take advantage of it."
Jrue Holiday appears to have put a rough stretch behind him, totaling 37 points over the last two games. The guard averaged 6.7 points on 23.5 percent shooting in the previous three games.
As a rookie last season, Holiday scored 15 points with six assists in each of the two meetings with Golden State.
The Associated Press News Service
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