Originally Published: February 7, 2012

1. Ellis' Career Night Not Enough For Warriors

By Ethan Sherwood Strauss
TrueHoop Network

OAKLAND, Calif. -- "Are you an All-Star?" I asked Monta Ellis at the end of his postgame interview. Head slightly hanging from a cavernous, rumpled brown overcoat, Ellis looked up. He had scored a spectacular 48 points on 29 attempts, only to see the Golden State Warriors lose 119-116 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. He had just missed a possible game-winner, after making so many impossible shots. "Who cares? I'm a basketball player. I'ma' go play my heart out every night. That's it."

Interview over.

While you could certainly quibble with Ellis' efficiency, his shot selection, his gambler's interpretation of defense, he does play a dogged brand of ball in an outpost that rarely gets the national shine.

Monta Ellis and Russell Westbrook
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

He will likely miss the All-Star Game cut, mostly on account of these aforementioned quibbles. Still, it is difficult not to empathize with Ellis on a night like this, when it all comes together in the name of futility. For a stretch, Ellis owned Oracle Arena like no one had since Baron Davis garnished Andrei Kirilenko's flat top. It was a career high en route to yet another low -- in a long slew of them.

The sense of near-victory and acutely felt defeat came through in Mark Jackson's lamentations about fourth-quarter calls that went against David Lee and Monta Ellis: "These are calls that you cannot get back. But they hurt us. I don't accept 'my bad' from my players all night long, and it's getting old, accepting 'my bad' from these calls."

Stephen Curry, who pitched in an efficient 16 points and 10 assists, echoed the sentiment: "We felt good, just a couple calls didn't go our way."

Despite the final score, despite Kevin Durant's brilliant slaloms to the hoop (33 points, 7 boards, 10 dimes), the Warriors believed that they had this game earned and won.

In the glow of victory, Durant had a different take: "We want to strive toward perfection. We want to be one of those teams that are looked at as a really good team, and tonight we kind of had too many lapses. As a leader, I'm a little upset at myself for letting that happen."

Ethan Sherwood Strauss covers the NBA for the TrueHoop Network. Follow him on Twitter.

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