Free throws sink Nets

Golden State 121, Nets 119
January 25, 2008 4:56:58 AM PST
The Warriors fouled New Jersey's Josh Boone six times in less than two minutes of the third quarter, repeatedly sending an awful free throw shooter to the line on purpose - where he significantly improved his season percentage by making only half of his shots.And that was just the third-weirdest aspect of the second half in Golden State's latest exhilarating home win.

Monta Ellis had a career-high 39 points, hitting four free throws in the final minute, and the Warriors both scored 22 consecutive points and blew a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter of their nutty 121-119 victory over the Nets on Thursday night.

From Warriors coach Don Nelson's Hack-a-Boone tactic to the breakneck momentum swings of the final period, Golden State's sellout crowd rarely sat down in the final 24 minutes of this bucking bronco of a game. Yet for all the craziness, Ellis' teammates felt his steadiness was the difference.

The mellow third-year guard went 13-of-18 from the field and 13-of-14 at the free throw line, playing nearly 41 minutes with just one turnover. Though the Warriors scored a season-best 39 points in the fourth quarter, they weren't safe until Ellis hit two go-ahead free throws with a minute left and two more with 15.7 seconds to play

"We weren't concerned," Ellis said with his usual blank-faced calm. "It's the league. We make a run, they make a run. It's the NBA. As long as we do what we need to do, we're going to be OK."

It was hardly that simple, but Ellis' teammates were too exhausted to argue after holding off the Nets, who lost their season-worst seventh straight despite Richard Jefferson's 34 points and an impressive fourth-quarter rally.

Baron Davis posted his eighth career triple-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, while Al Harrington scored 19 points as Golden State finally finished off its fifth win in seven games, rebounding from a humiliating loss to NBA-worst Minnesota on Monday.

"It is exciting basketball, especially when we go on runs like that, and our crowd gets into it," said Davis, who has four triple-doubles with the Warriors. "You can feel the energy, and you know something special is happening. We're just trying to learn how to be consistent, and playing against a great defensive team like that will help us."

Harrington hit three of his four 3-pointers while Golden State scored 22 straight points in less than four minutes early in the fourth quarter. After going nearly 5½ minutes without a field goal, New Jersey replied with an 18-4 rally in its fourth stop on a tough six-game road trip, taking a 112-111 lead with 2:03 left on Antoine Wright's 3-pointer.

New Jersey went up by three with 1:23 left before Golden State reclaimed the lead on Ellis' free throws, and both Wright and Jason Kidd missed 3-pointers before Davis' cherry-picking layup with 25 seconds to play. New Jersey cut the final margin on Bostjan Nachbar's 3-pointer in the final second.

Vince Carter scored 29 points for the Nets, who are on their longest skid in more than three years.

"If we were able to play with a consistent effort, we wouldn't be looking at this losing streak," Jefferson said. "You just have to stick with it and understand it. They're up by 10, but they're going to give us a chance to get back in the game. We had our shots. We just weren't able to do it."

Boone had a season-high 21 points and a career-best 17 rebounds, and the notoriously poor free throw shooter came through - at least by his standards - during Golden State coach Don Nelson's scheme to foul Boone intentionally on every possession.

Boone airballed his first try, but eventually helped to put the Nets up by eight points entering the fourth.

"With the way I'm shooting free throws, I should kind of expect it," said Boone, who went 7-of-15 after hitting just 34 percent entering the game. "At the same time, it's not really basketball. All we do is stand around for a quarter."

That's exactly the point, according to Davis and Nelson.

"It really took them out of their rhythm, and it didn't allow them to move the ball," Davis said. "It forced them to stand there. They could never really establish that rhythm until we got way up."