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Warriors lose in Nelson's return

Warriors lose in Nelson's return Warriors coach Don Nelson, coming off a five-game absence, acknowledged that stress and a frenetic environment probably wasn't the best thing for him since he's still recovering from pneumonia.

Thursday, the Warriors gave him both in a 111-109 loss to the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors overcame a listless first half, rallied to build a lead as larges as 10 in the fourth quarter, only to have Houston come back and take the lead. The teams traded baskets and stops down the stretch. But when guard Monta Ellis who had 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds was whistled for a traveling with a second left, Nelson had more than stress and intensity. He had heart break, which certainly can't be good for a 69-year-old still recovering from pneumonia.

With games like this, Nelson may have to go back on the shelf until he's fully recovered, especially with a five-game winter road trip coming.

"I got tired of sitting around home," Nelson said. "Thought I'd try to come back here, see how it works, and then make some decisions. I'm not sure. You know, I'm up and down. I feel good, then I feel bad. (ellipses) I kind of wanted to come back and I'm not sure that I should go on this next trip or not. Then I'm going to kind of make that decision as I coach these two games. See how I feel, how things are going."

Nelson said he was told to take it easy. He needs to rest when he's away from the game and keep it mild when he's working. He got up sparingly Thursday, partly because he gets dizzy when he gets up too fast.

His one moment of animation came late in the second quarter after Ellis picked up back-to-back offensive foul charges. Nelson jumped up and down three times, displaying his two-inch vertical while his arms waived in protest.

He spent most of the fourth quarter on his feet as the Rockets chipped away at Golden State's lead. The Warriors missed 12 of their first 17 shots of the fourth quarter, several inside the paint. After Rockets forward Carl Landry knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:55 left in the game, the score was tied at 103. The worst-case scenario for Nelson a high-stress, back-and-forth conclusion was in place.

After Ellis missed a runner, Landry scored inside to give Houston a 105-103 lead. But Morrow followed with a jumper to tie the game.

Lowry and Ellis each made a pair of free throws, leaving the game tied at 107. Then Lowry scored on a driving layup just inside a minute left.

Ellis turned the ball over on the Warriors ensuing possession, dribbling it off his foot. But the Warriors got a stop and a driving lay-up by Morrow tied the game at 109 with 13.3 seconds left.

But guard C.J. Watson was called for a foul while contesting a pull-up jumper by Houston guard Aaron Brooks. He knocked down the game-winning free throws with 2.1 seconds left.

Though his competitiveness has him back on the bench perhaps earlier than he should be, Nelson said he trusts himself to know when to say when.

"I think I'm fairly careful," Nelson said, "though I've never been 69 before. So it's the first time I've ever been through anything like this at 69. I just don't want to be silly or stupid. I understand that age is a factor in these issues."

The Warriors were about as sluggish as Nelson looked in the first half. They shot 44.2 percent from the field and turned the ball over 11 times, managing just 18 points in the paint.

Golden State did have one thing working for it: ball movement. The Warriors had 12 assists in the first half. Seven players scored, led by Ellis' 12, and the one that didn't, center Chris Hunter, was 0-for-5. They got good looks at the basket, which led to five 3-pointers made in the first half.

Still, the Warriors trailed 58-51 at the break, thanks largely to Rockets guard Trevor Ariza, who had 16 at half time. But that deficit was gone less than three minutes into the third quarter.

Radmanovic nailed a 3-pointer to put the Warriors ahead 64-62 with 9:19 on the clock. It started a string of eight straight points for him. He hit another 3-pointer at the 7:58 mark to put the Warriors ahead 69-64, capping an 18-6 Warriors run.

Radmanovic finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Rockets 111, Warriors 109 ?Saturday: vs. Orlando, 7:30 p.m. ?TV/Radio: CSN/KNBR

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Added: December 5, 2009


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