Ellis, Croshere come up big as Warriors defeat Sonics

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Austin Croshere has watched from the Golden State bench all season as the Warriors repeatedly got off to slow starts, recovered with big runs and then struggled to put away opponents before the final minutes.

It's exhausting basketball, both to play and to watch. Not even Croshere realized he might be the solution.

Monta Ellis scored 30 points, Croshere added 14 in the decisive third quarter without missing a shot, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Seattle SuperSonics 105-99 Tuesday night for their fifth win in seven games.

Baron Davis had 20 points, 10 assists and seven steals for the Warriors, who stumbled to another poor start against a bottom-dwelling opponent before Ellis and Croshere took charge.

That's right, Croshere, the 11-year veteran forward who has battled back problems while barely playing in his first year with Golden State. After a solid effort in the second quarter convinced coach Don Nelson to start him in the second half, Croshere went 6-for-6 to establish his season high for points in just 9½ minutes as the Warriors ran away.

"The last few years, my role has been to be ready, not knowing if you're going to get a DNP or play 27 minutes," Croshere said of his recent time with Indiana, Dallas and Golden State. "That's tough for younger players, but I've been doing it for a while now. ... It felt good to be out there. I didn't really do anything special. We've got four great scorers out there, so I was just reading the double-teams and getting to the basket."

Neither Chris Webber nor rookie Brandan Wright is likely to be a complete fill-in for Andris Biedrins, who's out of the Warriors' lineup after undergoing an appendectomy. Both Wright, who made his second career start, and Webber struggled to help Golden State's slow start, so Nelson went to his well-rested veteran.

"Croshere to the rescue," Nelson said. "We've been waiting ever since he came back from the back injury for him to be a factor, and he just hasn't been doing it. He had some really bad practices when he first came back. We've been waiting a long time for him to be a factor, and hopefully he can do it regularly now."

Stephen Jackson returned from a two-game absence with a sprained ankle to score 17 points for the Warriors, who got back in form after an embarrassing home loss to Atlanta last Friday. Golden State never trailed in the fourth quarter -- a rarity in the Warriors' high-risk, high-reward game.

Golden State took charge late in the third with an 11-0 run, including four points apiece from Croshere and Ellis, who went 14-for-22 and added six rebounds.

"If we'd just play our third quarters at the beginning of the game, it wouldn't be so tough for us," said Ellis, who has 13 straight 20-point games at home.

Kevin Durant scored 21 points and fellow rookie Jeff Green had a career high 21 for the Sonics, who have lost four of six. Luke Ridnour matched his career high with 15 assists, including 12 in the first half, but injury-depleted Seattle couldn't stay with the Warriors' uptempo offense in the second half.

"We get upset with ourselves, but we never put our heads down," Durant said. "I think we come out and play hard, and if you've seen our last game [a 20-point home loss to the Lakers], there was a big difference between what we did then and today, so we've got to keep building. We'd love to win, but we've got to keep building."

Nick Collison had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Seattle, which had a 13-point lead early on. Coach P.J. Carlesimo bemoaned his young team's 25 turnovers.

"It's not just that they force [turnovers], they thrive on them, and it creates their offense," said Carlesimo, the former Warriors coach. "But I thought our guys played great. We defended their 3s very well, and we competed against a good team."

Donyell Marshall made his Seattle debut in the third quarter despite a lingering flu bug that kept him out since joining the team in the trades that shuffled the entire franchise last week. Marshall, also a former Warriors forward, played just 1 minute, as did newcomer Adrian Griffin.

The Sonics still are without guard Earl Watson, who's ill, and forward Damien Wilkins, who has a sprained right wrist.

Game notes
Wright had two points and three rebounds in his second NBA start, his first since Jan. 4. Biedrins missed his second straight game. ... Ridnour, a career 85 percent free-throw shooter making 89 percent this season, missed back-to-back foul shots in the first quarter. ... Golden State starter Al Harrington missed his first seven shots and played 27 minutes before getting his first points on a 3-pointer with 8:37 to play.