Warriors hold off Wolves for fifth straight home win

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Monta Ellis calmly converted the clutch free throws, aching back and all. He moved gingerly through the locker room afterward.

Ellis scored a career-high 35 points to go with six rebounds and four assists, and the Golden State Warriors held on to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-101 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight home victory.

"He's just getting better all the time, really fun to watch," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "It was a perfect game for him to gain some more maturity and be at the line under pressure."

Baron Davis added 27 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and Stephen Jackson had 19 points, six assists and six boards in the fourth victory in five games for Golden State. The Warriors led by as many as 22 before Minnesota nearly rallied from a 12-point deficit heading into the final period.

Ellis went down hard and grabbed his lower back after scoring and being fouled by Marko Jaric with 3:27 left. After landing awkwardly, he stayed down for several minutes before hopping up with help from athletic trainer Tom Abdenour as the crowd chanted "MON-TAY!"

Ellis converted the ensuing free throw, giving him his career high.

"I just let that pain go away for a minute, shooting down my back," Ellis said. "I just had to concentrate."

He shot 13-for-21 from the floor and became one of only five guards in the league shooting 50 percent.

Al Jefferson had 20 points and 19 rebounds, Rashad McCants scored 15 points and Ryan Gomes added 14 for the Timberwolves, who were coming off their biggest loss in nearly 10 years with a 110-76 defeat in New Orleans on Saturday that was a season low for points.

Antoine Walker's basket with 10:45 remaining cut Golden State's lead to single digits at 88-79, and McCants' 3-pointer at 9:16 made it 90-82.

Gomes had key baskets with 2:17 to play and at the 1:04 mark to cut the lead to 98-96. But trailing 100-96, the Timberwolves committed a shot clock violation with 23 seconds left.

"We lost our tempo," Davis said. "I'm happy we got the win. I'd rather win and learn a lesson."

After opening the season with four straight losses at Oracle Arena, the Warriors have gone 8-1 on their home floor, with the only loss coming in overtime to Southeast-leading Orlando on Dec. 3.

Golden State pushed the tempo from the start to create high-percentage shots in the teams' second meeting in exactly a week. The Warriors won 111-98 at Minnesota on Dec. 19, getting 20-point efforts from Harrington, Jackson and Ellis.

"We try not to sleep on anybody," Jackson said. "They are still in the NBA so they have to be somewhat good."

The Warriors (17-12), who ended an NBA-worst 12-year playoff drought last season, returned from the second of two season-high, five-game road trips with a 3-2 record.

"I'm still very cautious with the team," Nelson said. "I don't think we're as good as our record or as a lot of people think but we keep playing pretty well."

And it's just the opposite for Minnesota, which finally found a rhythm in the waning moments of this one.

The Timberwolves own the NBA's worst record at 4-23 and they have lost eight of nine. This was the team's ninth straight road defeat and Minnesota is 1-13 overall.

"Monta Ellis and Baron Davis, we couldn't guard them. Our guards could not guard them," Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. "We have to get our focus back to defense first. We're too worried about offense, like somebody missing a screen. You saw what happens when we commit to defense. We just can't think that we can come back from 22 all the time."

Golden State went ahead 50-28 on Ellis' driving layup with 6:03 left in the second quarter. Yet after the basket by Ellis, the Warriors went scoreless over the next 4:11 before Davis' 3 with 1:52 before halftime. They led 56-43 at the break, forcing 13 turnovers by Minnesota.

Gomes hit a 40-footer at the buzzer to end the first quarter and pull the Wolves within 33-24 after Golden State shot well early (14-for-25).

Jaric and McCants returned to Minnesota's lineup after each missed games with the flu, three for Jaric and two for McCants.

"Tonight's game, story of our season," McCants said. "We can't let ourselves get behind by so much. We've come back from large deficits like this but it always seems like we have way too many turnovers."

Game notes
Ellis had scored 31 points five times. ... Golden State beat the Wolves for the third consecutive time in Oakland, but won for just the sixth time in the last 23 meetings overall. ... Jackson continues to impress his coach. "I didn't think any one man would make that big a difference in our team, but what I think he's done is get the rest of the guys to play at a higher level, and I don't think it's just been him," Nelson said. "It's been his leadership that has solidified our team some." ... The Warriors' nine road victories before Christmas were their most since going 10-6 before the holiday in 1975-76. ... Minnesota G Greg Buckner saw limited action in his return after a nine-game absence because of a strained right calf.