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Warriors’ Steve Kerr starting to feel better, takes the stage at Chicago comedy club

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr talks to the media at the team's practice facility in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, June 18, 2015. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr talks to the media at the team’s practice facility in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, June 18, 2015. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

CHICAGO – Warriors coach Steve Kerr has seen his condition improve slowly but surely, with perhaps a positive sign emerging on a chilly Tuesday night when he invited his coaching staff out to a comedy club.

Kerr, who is traveling with the team while on his leave of absence, wasn’t just feeling good enough to go to an old haunt of his on the eve of the Warriors’ game against the Bulls. Kerr, who played five seasons in Chicago, was willing – with some prodding – to go on stage during the improv session at The Second City theatre where numerous comic legends got their start.

“It’s a great sign,” said Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton, who attended the show with Kerr.

“During one of the intermissions, (cast members) asked if he’d be willing to come up on stage and take part in it. He was good up there too, showing some of his wit and being as engaged as he was. We obviously don’t try to read into anything. Whenever he’s ready, he’s ready, but that’s a good sign.”

The return of Kerr’s dry sense of humor has for months been an indicator to the coaching staff of at least some progression with his health. The on-stage appearance marked a rare public appearance for Kerr, who due to complications from offseason back surgeries has missed the first half of the regular season.

“He was hesitant a little bit about doing it, but I think he thought it’d be good,” said Warriors player development coach Bruce Fraser, a longtime friend of Kerr’s who was in attendance. “He was great. He’s witty. It was more of almost an interview. They were asking him questions that were serious, a little bit more about the team, and they would act out some of the things that came up.”

Fraser said Kerr remains “up and down” with his condition and that the night out after dinner reflects how the head coach is starting to feel better, though not necessarily that he actually is better. Kerr has been more energetic of late, traveling with the team for three of its past four road trips.

“It’s still tough to tell with him because he’s tough,” Walton said. “So even when he’s feeling bad, he still tries. He’s looked good the last couple of days. He really has, so I’m hoping he’s not just getting better at playing the part and that he’s actually feeling better.”

At least for one night, Kerr played an impromptu part on stage in spotlight theatre lighting when asked to join the show.

“He was like ‘sure’ with a little egging on from us,” Walton said with a laugh.

How soon will Kerr, who has offered no timetable, return to coaching?

“Hopefully soon he’ll be running the show again,” Walton said.

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5 things we learned from Warriors’ 132-98 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers

Here are five things we learned from the Warriors’ 132-98 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers:

1. The Warriors are hard to beat when they have 33 assists and only eight turnovers. That’s a lot of ball movement leading to open shots. It also helped the Warriors got back on track on defense as the Cavaliers had 16 turnovers. “A lot of stuff went right, and just about everything went wrong for them,” Draymond Green said.

2. Luke Walton didn’t think the rout would send a message or hamper the Cavaliers going forward. Maybe he’s right, but the loss did have LeBron James saying, “We have a long way to go.” It can’t help Cleveland’s confidence in winning a title that the Warriors swept the season series in decisive fashion.

3. The Warriors’ small lineup is good against the Cavaliers. That was proven, of course, in the NBA Finals. It continues to be true, with Andre Iguodala having a big game and Green doing what he does. Festus Ezeli got plenty of action as well, giving the Warriors a quick-strike offense.

4. Stephen Curry has a way with words. His lighthearted joke about hoping the visiting locker room smelled like champagne might have drawn an overreaction. But Curry was not fazed and afterward said this: “It smelled like Morton’s catered.” Morton’s was the postgame meal and the steakhouse in Cleveland where the Warriors celebrated the title last season.

5. James could only marvel at the Warriors. There was in-game frustration with the shove of Curry and the technical foul he was whistled for. Afterward, he was forced to tip his cap again. “Draymond did a great job attacking our scheme and putting pressure on our defense either to assist, score or make plays. And obviously Steph, hitting the shots that he hit. Iguodala’s production off the bench. They got a little bit of everything.”

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Video: Warriors coach Steve Kerr hits halfcourt shot

Golden State Warriors new head coach Steve Kerr smiles during a press conference at the Warriors' practice facility in downtown Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.  Kerr is currently a TNT commentator, was the general manager of the Phoenix Suns, and was a guard with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. He is one of two players to win two championships with two different teams. in consecutive seasons. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

Golden State Warriors new head coach Steve Kerr smiles during a press conference at the Warriors’ practice facility in downtown Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Kerr is currently a TNT commentator, was the general manager of the Phoenix Suns, and was a guard with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. He is one of two players to win two championships with two different teams. in consecutive seasons. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

CLEVELAND — Warriors coach Steve Kerr banked in an underhanded halfcourt shot during the team’s shootaround as players and staff members participated in a lighthearted contest.

“We have some really good shooters on our team, and we have one really good shooter on our coaching staff,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton joked. “He’s hit those before. I’m not surprised.”

Players yelled “He’s back!” after Kerr hit the shot. But as far as returning to the bench, he remains unable to coach.

Kerr being on the trip to Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago marks the farthest he has traveled with the team this season. He is believed to be improving, but there is no timetable on his return.

“He looks pretty good, but I don’t think until he’s ready to coach he’s going to tell us he’s feeling that much better,” Walton said. “I don’t think he wants to jinx himself. But he does look good the last few days.”

 

 

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Warriors’ Draymond Green excited to see Ben Wallace’s number retired

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 6: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after scoring against the Brooklyn Nets during the fourth quarter in an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center on December 6, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Warriors defeated the Nets 114-98. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 6: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after scoring against the Brooklyn Nets during the fourth quarter in an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center on December 6, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Warriors defeated the Nets 114-98. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Draymond Green is thrilled to be playing in his home state on the night that Ben Wallace, a player he watched and got to know personally, will have his number retired by the Detroit Pistons.

And Green went the extra mile to honor Wallace himself, writing a heartfelt letter to the 2004 NBA champion that was published in the Detroit Free Press.

“What do you do, send a text? He gets a million of those,” Green said Saturday. “What do you do, walk up to him and say, ‘Ben, congrats?’ A million people are going to say that. But I think with the platform that we have, to take advantage of that and show my gratitude because it goes further than just another guy playing in the NBA. It’s a little deeper than that for me.”

Wallace was a fellow so-called undersized forward at 6-foot-9, but played 16 NBA seasons and inspired Green with his toughness.

“Guys who were a force and unstoppable big man at that time, he just dominated,” Green recalled. “Six-foot-nine on a good day, and he made guys look like little boys. And that was spectacular because not often do you see that – somebody dominate the game on the defensive end of the floor.”

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5 things we learned from Warriors’ 112-110 loss to the Denver Nuggets

Here are five things we learned from the Warriors’ 112-110 loss to the Denver Nuggets:

1. Draymond Green was missed. Stephen Curry sat next to him after the game and heaped praise on the forward who’s All-Star caliber impact on the team became even more clear. Curry noted Green’s ability to guard four positions and be vocal on defense. “He has a very impactful skill set,” Curry said.

2. Harrison Barnes looked like his old self for the most part. He was disappointed some open shots in the second half didn’t fall, but he made a difference early on when the Warriors were going through a lull. He had an offensive rebound and dunk. He hit a 3-pointer that tied the game in the second quarter. Still, it wasn’t enough as Barnes experienced a loss for the first time this season.

3. The Warriors never say die, though that’s not much of a surprise. They never think they’re out of a game. Down by seven points with under a minute left, Curry went to work. The Warriors simply missed their opportunities. “Any time you got an MVP of the league on your team, you can go down there and hit some crazy shots, you’ll always have a chance to win the game,” Barnes said.

4. The Warriors needed to play smarter (see: Danilo Gallinari). Gallinari scored 17 of his 28 points on a night when he was 5-for-14 from the field. Luke Walton and multiple players noted that they simply didn’t have to foul him so often. Had Green not been rested, he would have had an impact there.

5. The Warriors were fine with that final look. Curry was the first option, but Walton said he would of course live with Thompson taking the shot, too. Thompson said he didn’t get his legs in it, and the shot fell short.

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5 things we learned from Warriors’ 128-108 win against the Portland Trail Blazers

Here are five things we learned from the Warriors’ 128-108 win against the Portland Trail Blazers

1. The Trail Blazers have the utmost respect for the Warriors.  “Obviously they’re on pace to have the best record ever, and I think they likely will get it,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said.

2. Stephen Curry looked fine. He wore some padding over his previously bruised left shin, but showed no signs of slowing down while playing on it. To say the least, that’s great news for the Warriors. His confidence could be seen as he threw a no-look lob to Andrew Bogut.

3. Klay Thompson was on fire and has been since the new year. His 19-point first quarter set the tone for the team, and afterward, he was close to expressionless discussing his overall performance. In other words, vintage Klay.

4. Brandon Rush is back, and those around him couldn’t be happier for him. He scored a season-high 20 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range. That’s one more three than he hit all last season. His teammates, especially the ones who saw him go down with the ACL injury that cost him his some athleticism and confidence, are glad to see a version of the old B Rush is back. He suffered waded through difficult seasons after the injury, worked hard in the offseason, and is making the most of his opportunity to start.

5. The Warriors were thrilled to see their fans in Portland. A lot of California natives live here, and they got loud. Don’t forget that the Warriors love Portland back. Klay Thompson grew up in the area. Also, Luke Walton’s father played here and was able to catch up with his son before the game.

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5 things we learned from Warriors’ 109-88 win against the Los Angeles Lakers

Here are five things we learned from the Warriors’ 109-88 win against the Los Angeles Lakers:

1. When Klay Thompson gets hot, look out. This wasn’t quite to the level of the 37-point quarter, but dropping 22 in the first against the team he grew up rooting for had to be a special moment. There was no Kobe Bryant on the other side to face. But Thompson loves it when family and friends in Southern California are in the building. “Growing up a Laker fan, he’s always kind of enjoyed these games,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said of Thompson.

2. Stephen Curry is playing through discomfort. This was obvious from the way he limped after getting kicked again in the shin. But it was also revealed in his postgame statements with talk of swelling and contusions and having to get and more treatment. He’ll keep on playing, but the season is taking its toll. “I’ll be alright,” he said.

3. With Curry struggling to get healthy, his teammates are stepping forward. Thompson has had big games in recent days. Draymond Green went on triple-doubles streak. It’s no coincidence, according to Walton, who says that every player has done more. “They see that Steph has been banged up a little bit lately, and every one of them…they pick each other up,” Walton said.

4. Green fell short of a fourth straight double-double, but he’s not worried. “I was just out there trying to do what I do…Oh well. I really don’t care,” Green said, adding that he didn’t feel he played well. Had Green gotten a fourth straight triple-double, he would have joined an elite group of names — Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Maurice Stokes and Russell Westbrook.

5. The Warriors won their 100th regular-season game since last season. That’s 17 losses since Steve Kerr and his staff took over.