OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Monta Ellis dazzled off the dribble. He wowed with his midair acrobatics. At one point, he even banked in a 3-pointer, then mouthed a few words at Golden State Warriors co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber sitting courtside.
“It just feels like I’m at home,” Ellis said.
Ellis had 26 points, five assists and five rebounds against his previous team to help the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Warriors 103-93 on Saturday night. The former fan favorite teased and pleased a sellout crowd of 19,596 inside Oracle Arena behind a new undersized backcourt teammate that matched his every move and more.
Brandon Jennings added 31 points and 10 assists, and J.J. Redick finished with 15 points and seven assists while hitting some big shots late to carry the Bucks (31-29) to their fifth win in six games.
“I loved it,” said Ellis, who shot 10 of 19 from the field. “I was here 7½ years. I did everything I could for this team, and they appreciated it and I appreciate them. Even though we had bad seasons, they still came out here and supported us.”.
In a matchup of teams transformed by last season’s trade, Milwaukee has owned the matchup.
The Bucks are 3-0 against the Warriors since sending center Andrew Bogut to the Bay Area for Ellis. He received a big assist in the latest matchup from Jennings, who was 10-of-16 shooting, including 6 of 11 from beyond the arc.
Bogut had four points, four assists and nine rebounds in 29 minutes in his first game against the Bucks since the trade. He didn’t speak to reporters following the game, leaving before Warriors coach Mark Jackson’s news conference had ended.
“When it gets to a point of closing out games, the stakes are going to be raised, the pressure’s going to come. You’ve got to be able to embrace it and handle it. And right now, we’re not,” Jackson said.
Klay Thompson scored 18 points and Carl Landry had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors in place of David Lee. The All-Star forward sat out with a bruised right knee but is hopeful to return Monday night against the New York Knicks.
After losing at home to Houston on Friday night, Golden State’s bid for playoff positioning is starting to dwindle. The Warriors (35-29) are a game ahead of the Rockets for sixth place in the Western Conference but only 2½ in front of the hard-charging Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz, who are tied for eighth.
“We put ourselves in position to have some room to work with, but you can’t play around with that,” said Stephen Curry, who had 16 points and 10 assists.
Milwaukee was also without its starting power forward. Ersan Ilyasova missed the game with a left knee injury that occurred in a loss at the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. He is day to day.
After falling behind by 10 points at the start of the fourth quarter, the Warriors rallied back — briefly. Thompson made a 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper to slice Milwaukee’s lead to 86-85 midway through the quarter.
The Jennings-Ellis backcourt tandem turned out to be too much.
With the pair taking so much of the attention, Redick capitalized on the double teams the Warriors constantly threw their way. Redick converted a difficult layup while Bogut hammered him to the floor, then hit two 3-pointers to put the Bucks ahead 96-87 with 2:47 to play.
Redick’s right ankle twisted awkwardly when he landed. He lay on the floor in pain, limped to the bench with the assist of a trainer but returned when play resumed.
At that point, the game already had been decided — in large part by the flashier Bucks guard.
“Monta has been playing at this level for quite a while now,” Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. “He’s really taken off. His intensity for the last two, maybe three weeks has been as good as you can be. I know he was probably up for this game because it has a little extra meaning for him but it’s no different than I see just about every night.
Bogut, drafted No. 1 overall in 2005 by the Bucks, hadn’t faced his former team since the trade last March that sent Ellis and forward Ekpe Udoh to Milwaukee for the 7-foot center. Bogut has played in 16 of 63 games this season. He missed most while recovering from left ankle surgery and sat out another six recently because of back spasms.
Bogut already had been ruled out for the season with the ankle injury when the Bucks traded him last March. He missed Milwaukee’s win a few days later at Golden State and the Bucks’ victory over the Warriors in Milwaukee on Jan. 26.
In his second game in Oakland since last year’s trade, Ellis received a spirited ovation when he sprinted out for pregame warm-ups and again during introductions. He put together a series of alluring drives off the dribble that stirred the crowd at the start, scoring 10 points in the first quarter.
The Warriors went ahead by eight in the second quarter before Ellis and Jennings juked them all over the floor.
The pair made its biggest marks from long range, though. Jennings made 5 of his first 7 from beyond the arc, and Ellis’ bank 3-pointer put Milwaukee ahead 75-66 late in the third quarter, but he declined to elaborate on what he might’ve said to the owners.
“I never talked noise in my career,” Ellis said. “You never know, I might have to come back here and retire. Who knows?”.
NOTES: F Malcolm Thomas, signed to a 10-day contract from the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA Development League on Friday, had two rebounds in three minutes. … Ish Smith had one assist in 3 minutes in his first action since coming over in the trade that also brought Redick from Orlando last month.
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