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Andre Iguodala dominates in win over Lakers in China; Andrew Bogut injures back

OAKLAND – The athleticism of Andre Iguodala is obvious. He’s got the best combination of speed, strength, size and leaping ability on the Warriors roster. He jumps passing lanes, catches lobs and smothers ball-handlers like Golden State fans haven’t seen probably since Latrell Sprewell.

But perhaps Iguodala’s best attribute, as it relates to his impact on the Warriors, is his ability to facilitate. With his ball-handling, court vision, size, basketball IQ, unselfishness, Iguodala has already established himself as one of the Warriors’ best playmakers.

He had just four points but was the most dominant player in Golden State’s 115-89 win over the Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers at  Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China. Iguodala had 14 assists to go with seven rebounds and five steals – all in just shy of 29 minutes.

Iguodala had five assists during a 24-5 third quarter Warriors run that took control of the game. Twice he set-up open 3-point looks for Klay Thompson, who nailed them both for six of his game-high 25 points. Minutes later, Iguodala found Stephen Curry open in transition to cap the spurt with a 3-pointer.

Last season, the Warriors relied heavily on back-up point guard Jarrett Jack. He was the point guard in what Mark Jackson deemed his best lineup, with Curry moving to shooting guard. But even though Jack signed with Cleveland, that option is clearly still available with Iguodala.

It might even be better.

Jack was tough, had a reliable pull-up jumper and was savvy enough to beat most defenders. But he was small and dribbled a lot. Both became a problem as defenses began to focus more on Jack.

Iguodala – who stands 6-foot-6, 207 pounds – doesn’t seem to have such shortcomings. Because of his size and vision, he can see the whole floor and can make passes many small guards can’t make. Because of his athleticism, he gets to spots on the floor quickly and easily.

Jack ran the offense and, when the play call didn’t get Curry or Thompson open, simply took his man one-on-one. But Jack, because of his size, had a tendency to find himself in traps or had a tough time seeing the open man in traffic. Conversely, Iguodala can see all the angles while in traffic. What’s more, he gets guys open by drawing the defense to him.

That’s going to equal a lot of open looks for the Warriors’ shooters. Friday, Golden State hit 15 3-pointers.

Two questions remain for Iguodala, though. First, how well will Iguodala be able to capitalize if teams are forcing him to score. He isn’t known for having a consistent jumper, But he was a capable scorer in his Philadelphia days.

Second, can he come through in the clutch? Curry is expected to get more of those opportunities that went to Jack last season. But Curry will get lots of attention. If Iguodala has the ball in his hands down the stretch, he’ll be needed to consistently make the big play as Jack did.

If so, in Iguodala the Warriors have their best athlete, best defender and back-up point guard all in one.

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Andrew Bogut left the game after 2 minutes, 46 seconds of action, knocked out by lower back spasms.

The injury appeared to happen during a post move in the first quarter. Bogut got the ball on the left low block, with Pau Gasol on his back. He took a couple dribbles towards the middle and spun back to his left, dropping in the left hand hook at the 9:26 mark of the first quarter.

Running back down court, Bogut began to grimace and hold his lower back. Moments later, he was taken out of the game and limped straight to the locker room. He was done for the night.

Bogut missed time last season thanks to a protruding disc in his back. He missed 43 games in 2008-09 with a lower back injury. So back issues aren’t new for the 7-foot Australian. Still, he clearly wasn’t happy about this latest episode.

Bogut, who is currently negotiating a contract extension with Warriors’ management, deemed himself 100 percent earlier this preseason. After missing 50 games last season, and laboring through 12 postseason games, Bogut recuperated and got into great shape. He was aiming for his first injury-free season years.

It appeared he wanted to stay in the game. He was attuned on the ensuing defensive possession, defending Gasol. Then on the next dead ball, he was trying to stretch out his back by lifting his knees. He never asked to come out.

Coach Mark Jackson summoned Marreese Speights to check in seconds after he saw Bogut favoring his back. But when Speights checked into the game, Bogut appeared to wave him off at first. He eventually jogged off straight to the locker room.

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The best shooter on the court Friday night was … Draymond Green. OK, Thompson was pretty good: 10 of 14 from the field, 5 of 6 from 3. But you expect that from Thompson.

Green, however, shot 32.7 percent from the field last season and missed 120 of his 190 3-point attempts. So when he out-shoots Curry, it stands out.

The second-year forward did just that Friday. He was 5 of 7 from the field. He knocked down 4 of 5 from 3-point range, all coming in the second quarter.

But in typical Green fashion, he impacted the game in a variety of ways. He totaled 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots in just over 22 minutes. Green usually brings defense, hustle and basketball IQ to the table. But if his shot is on, he’s especially trouble for opponents focusing on the Warriors’ bigger names.

Green is shooting 40 percent form the field in five preseason games. He is now 7 of 10 from 3-point range.

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Speaking of shooting, Curry was 3 of 12 from the field. He was 1 of 5 from 3-point range, three of the misses were wide-open looks.

Curry is shooting 33.9 percent from the field this preseason. He is 10 of 30 from deep.

Worried?

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Speaking of shooting, Kent Bazemore knocked down three 3-pointers. He was 5 of 8 from the field with 14 points. He just may be finding a rhythm.

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Toney Douglas sat out the game with what the box score said was left leg inflammation. Jackson gave those minutes to rookie Nemanja Nedovic, and he didn’t look bad at all.

Nedovic was the first guard off the bench and logged more than 25 minutes. He looked much more comfortable out there. He finished with eight points on 3 of 5 shooting and was plus-8. But his athleticism shined through more. He rebounded well (5 boards) and looked pretty explosive on a couple drives to the basket, including a pretty, swooping reverse layup.

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Harrison Barnes missed his third straight game with an inflammed left foot. He was listed as a coach’s decision, so officially Jackson is holding Barnes out. … Jermaine O’Neal sat out with a tibial stress reaction sore lower back. (Note: Joe Alexander is the one with the tibial stress reaction. My bad.)

 

Marcus Thompson

  • Peter I.

    great write up….keep up the good work M.

  • patchel

    Bad Back, Bad for Bogut, Bad for the Warriors, Bad for contract negotiations. The Warriors still have to throw the dice and sign him because the Warriors get a competent center every quarter century, but Bad Backs tend to stay with you for the rest of your career. It’s not something that gets cured.

  • Grey Warden

    If they’re going to do an incentive-based contract with Bogut, they should base it on minutes played rather than games played. There have been plenty of times last season where Bogut played less than 10 minutes a game. Maybe use 1600 minutes per season as the benchmark for him to receive higher bonuses. 1600 minutes is not unreasonable, as it’s only 19-20 min/game over a full season.

  • sureshot32

    Not worried about Curry’s shooting… not even a little bit.

    There are sure things in life, and then there stone cold locks. Curry shooting a terrific percentage over a long stretch is about as automatic as it gets. He’ll be fine. Bogut’s back? I’m not so sure.

  • Michael Stubblefield

    Acupuncture. They’re in China. Acupuncture saved my back by unlocking a muscle in constant spasm. I sure hope that Bogut and company are getting acupuncture treatment.

  • earl monroe

    Amen Marcus, you described Iguodala’s game perfectly, very well written.

  • victor soma

    Andre is going to be so fun to watch this year. Great BB IQ!!