for this game

Ellis' career-best 35 propels Warriors past Timberwolves

Dec 27, 2007 - 7:30 AM By Ryan Leong PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- In a matchup of two teams headed in completely different directions, the Golden State Warriors needed Monta Ellis' best game as a pro to hang on.

Ellis scored a career-high 35 points for the Warriors as they escaped with a 105-101 win over the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

Golden State started off 0-6 but has won 17 of its last 23 games to improve to 17-12. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have been in a deep freeze for the entire season and have the worst record in the NBA at 4-23.

"Well, I never thought it was going to be easy, and it wasn't," Warriors coach Don Nelson said of Wednesday's contest. "We had a great start and it was a battle down to the end. But bottom line, the only thing that is important (is that) we found a way to win. (I'm) happy for Monta, he had a career high and he's just getting better all the time."

Baron Davis added 27 points and Stephen Jackson 19 for the Warriors, who notched their fourth win in five games.

"We're a little rusty from the holidays, everyone was eating good and it was a tough game," Jackson said. "They kept playing and we started clock-watching and stopped playing, but we've got to continue to work on finishing games and I'm glad we were able to get this one."

The Warriors had maintained a double-digit advantage since the first quarter, but saw the Timberwolves close the deficit to within nine points on a 3-pointer by Antoine Walker. After a jumper by Jackson, another 3-pointer by Rashad McCants made it a 90-82 game with 9:16 remaining.

Craig Smith's jump hook cut the Warriors' lead to 91-84 with eight minutes to play.

After Jackson made the score, 93-84, with a tip-in with 5:56 left in the fourth, Ellis scored eight of the Warriors' final 10 points - including four free throws down the stretch - to hold off the Timberwolves' furious late rally.

"They just wouldn't go away but we've been in this situation a lot this season," Ellis said. "We know now as a team how to close games out and we did that and won the game."

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 getting up with the help of the training staff and being cheered on by the crowd's chants of "MON-TAY!"

"I wasn't worried; I just let that pain go away for a minute," Ellis said. "It was shooting down my back a little bit and I just had to concentrate, that's all. My jumper was there, we were running. We played good as a team."

He converted the ensuing free throw, giving him his career high. His previous best mark was 31, a mark he had reached three previous times.

Al Jefferson had 20 points and 19 rebounds, McCants scored 15 points and Ryan Gomes added 14 for the Timberwolves.

"We can't dig ourselves out of a 22-point hole against a good team," Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said. "We fought that out and I didn't have a worry that we wouldn't put forth the effort to get back in the game. But we're just too nice of guys and we won't hit anybody or take a foul when you need to take a foul."