Is the Curry-Ellis backcourt here to stay? The duo made a pretty convincing argument on a Saturday night on March 13, 2010 against the Toronto Raptors.
Those Raptors, who were 31-24 three weeks prior, took the 124-112 loss as their fourth straight (their fifth would soon follow in Portland). They would go on to miss out on the playoffs by a single game at 40-42 to the 41-41 Chicago Bulls with whom they had a tiebreaker. In the grand scheme of things, this loss to the then 18-47 Warriors, cost the Raptors a playoff spot.
The recipe was a glimpse at what could have been. Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis combining for 30-plus points each while Corey Maggette chipped in 20 and both Anthony Morrow (3-of-6 from 3-pt, 11 points) and Reggie Williams (2-of-2 from 3-pt, 4-of-4 from FT 12 points) did their part from behind the arc.
For a Warriors team that had struggled so mightily on the boards (averaged 30 per game) and limiting its fouls (23 per game, ranked 30th in the league in both categories by season’s end), this was a rare exception. They out-rebounded Toronto 42-39 thanks to a balanced rebounding effort in which six of eight players had at least four rebounds and four had six or more.
But this was not a game defined by rebounding and self-discipline. It was about the dream of the Curry-Ellis backcourt, that maybe, despite all the evidence that it wouldn’t work (including Ellis infamously saying himself, “We can’t… [we’re] not going to win that way”), maybe, just maybe, the dream of that ham-fisted marriage was still alive.
This was with a limited bench: no Ronny Turiaf, no Vladimir Radmanovich, no Raja Bell. Not exactly a star-studded cast, but a height issue given the opposing matchups of Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu.
A rookie Curry showed everything he could be and Ellis showed everything he already was. Two scoring phenoms at their most efficient, pushing the pace in transition and scoring with ease.
Ellis had 31 on 12-of-22 shooting with a 5-of-7 mark from 3-point range along with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers and 3 fouls.
Curry, with 35, was a point shy of his career-high of 36 points, set just over a month prior against the Los Angeles Clippers. He followed it up with a 29-point performance against the Lakers before sitting two games, and going on a 28-point-per-game tear over the final seven games of the season.
Of course, Curry at his best is far from just a scorer. He was ever-present in all facets of the game, with 6 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 steals and even a block, with just two turnovers and one foul.
This glimpse of what could be was clearly just that: a glimpse. Less than two years later, Ellis, averaging 21.9 points per game, was traded to Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson, who was immediately traded for Richard Jefferson, T.J. Ford and a conditional first-round pick.
March 13, 2010 was a hopeful glimpse at a Warriors future that was never meant to be.
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