NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 31st (All times eastern)
Philadelphia 76ers (1-2) at Golden State Warriors (2-1), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Golden State may have to wrap up a season-opening four-game homestand against the Philadelphia 76ers tonight without its most prolific offensive threat, Monta Ellis.
Ellis was excused from the Warriors' practice on Friday so he could attend his grandmother's funeral in Mississippi and the timetable for his return to the team is uncertain. New Golden State coach Mark Jackson told Ellis to take all the time he needs.
Ellis' grandmother, Mary Cole, died on Christmas Day at 89. Despite the sad news, Ellis played in the Warriors' opener later that night and the subsequent two games. He scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter on Wednesday, sparking the Warriors to a 92-78 victory over the Knicks.
Brandon Rush also stepped up in the absence of the injured Stephen Curry in that one with 19 points for Golden State, which turned a tie game heading to the final stanza into a rout.
Ish Smith filled in for the injured Curry (ankle) in the starting lineup and totaled 11 points, six rebounds and four assists in the Warriors' second straight victory.
"We're a no-excuse basketball team," said Jackson. "Whoever is in the game, whoever is playing, our mission stays the same."
Curry was able to participate in part of Friday's practice and is expected to play tonight but Smith is slated to get a second straight if Ellis doesn't dress.
The Sixers, meanwhile, fell to 1-2 on a grueling five-game road trip in Salt Lake City when Derrick Favors, starting in place of the injured Al Jefferson, paced the Jazz with a career-high 20 points while also pulling down 11 rebounds as the Jazz edged Philadelphia, 102-99.
Jrue Holiday scored a game-high 22 points, while Lou Williams added 20 but missed a game-tying three-pointer in the closing seconds. Spencer Hawes notched a double-double for Philadelphia with 15 points and 13 rebounds in the 76ers' seventh straight loss in Salt Lake City.
Philadelphia had a couple of golden opportunities to even things in the waning seconds of that one.
Down 101-99 with less than 15 seconds on the clock, the Sixers got the ball back after a traveling call on Devin Harris. Williams held the ball at the top of the key and saw a clear lane to the basket. He made a hard drive and laid the ball up, but it rimmed out. Hawes was right there for the tip-in, but his attempt was too hard and Paul Millsap grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled.
He made just 1-of-2 free throws, though, giving the ball back to Philadelphia with 4.9 seconds remaining. Williams number was called again for the potential game-tying shot, but his three-pointer was short and just tipped the front of the rim, sealing the win for the Jazz.
"That's a shot I can make, it just rimmed out," said Williams. "We had our opportunities. We got shots at the basket and we didn't convert and they did. Simple as that."
Philadelphia has lost eight of its last 10 games in the Bay Area.
12/31 10:35:27 ET