If you ask Stephen Curry, it’s a no-brainer who he wants to defend when the Warriors host the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight: Russell Westbrook.
The same goes for Chris Paul. For Derrick Rose. For Tony Parker. Curry wants, as he said after Thursday’s shoot around, to defend all the best point guards.
“Of course I do,” Curry said.
But that assignment usually goes to guard Klay Thompson, Curry’s backcourt mate. Thompson is 6-foot-7 with good athleticism and size who is sneaky good at moving laterally and contesting shots. It causes problems for point guards, especially the smaller ones, and it makes Thompson much better at keeping them out of the paint than Curry.
That is essential to the Warriors’ defensive game plan, protecting the paint. Not to mention, Curry’s propensity for foul trouble and heavy load on offense are also factors. That’s why Jackson sticks with the game plan. No matter how hard Curry lobbies.
The NBA unveiled the special jerseys to be worn by the ten teams playing on Christmas Day. They are short-sleeved and feature an enlarged team logo on the front.
Yes, the Warriors’ are yellow.
Despite the bad reviews from last year, which no doubt promoted the switch to the white sleeved jerseys this year, adidas put the Warriors back in yellow. But they won’t be alone.
“They’re cool,” point guard Stephen Curry said. “It’s nice to be playing on Christmas Day to showcase them off. Like I’ve said, as long as we shoot well and get the win, they look good.”
The Clippers, Lakers, Bulls, Heat, Thunder, Knicks, Nets, Rockets and Spurs will also join the sleeved-jersey gang.
Here are looks at the rest of them, plus the commercial featuring Stephen Curry (I like Brooklyn’s the most, hands down.)
With Toney Douglas out at least a couple of weeks with a stress fracture in his tibia, the Warriors lose their vest version of a back-up point guard. But team sources said the team isn’t searching to bring someone in. Not yet anyway.
Golden State management is content with seeing how the present options workout first. The Warriors have been going with back-up-by-committee even with Douglas. Andre Iguodala has played plenty point forward. Coach Mark Jackson has even bought time with Klay Thompson initiating the offense.
Douglas’ absence opens a door for Kent Bazemore. The 6-foot-5 wing, who the Warriors love for his athleticism and defensive skills, has been trying his hand at point guard — his best chance to get on the court. But in Tuesday’s win over Detroit, he didn’t look so good. He’ll probably get an opportunity to redeem himself as it would be ideal if they could use his size and defense at the point.
Another option is Nemanja Nedovic, the rookie guard out of Serbia who the Warriors drafted No. 30 overall. He’s young and relatively raw. But Jackson has expressed confidence in the explosive youngster who seems to get more comfortable with every appearance.
It will probably take an extended absence by Douglas, longer than two weeks, and the availability of someone who can come in right away and contribute. (Kendall Marshall,the former lottery pick by Phoenix, is out there.) Barring that, expect Golden State to take the wait-and-see approach.
The Warriors had their chance to make a statement. They were 2-0 heading into a daunting back-to-back set at San Antonio and Memphis. This is what contenders do. They go into situations like these and find a way.
Golden State looked as if it were game for the challenge in a nail-biting loss to San Antonio. Certainly, the same effort would give them a chance to beat the host Grizzlies. Instead, Golden State laid a dud.
Certainly, there is no shame in losing those two games. But it was a message: the Warriors have not arrived.
They are not to the level where they can go into a playoff team’s arena, without sneaking up on them, and winning. In those experiences, the Warriors are 0-3 (Clippers, Spurs, Grizzlies).
No doubt, they are fine. It’s early and they’re still trying to jell as a team. But it is still the reality of where they are.
More on back-to-back set.
Moral victories don’t carry much weight in the locker room of a team harboring championship ambitions. So there were no smiles in the locker room after But Golden State’s 76-74 to the Spurs. But from a macro perspective, Friday’s performance tempered the frustration.
With point guard Stephen Curry on the sidelines, a late scratch thanks to a bone bruise in his left ankle, Golden State could’ve beaten Western Conference power San Antonio. Perhaps should’ve beaten.
“We have to look at the positives, especially when we have a tough loss like this,” swingman Andre Iguodala said. “I think it was glaring, some of the things that kept us from getting the win. … Hopefully we grow from it. I’m sure we will.”
Iguodala’s game-tying floater taunting Warriors fans as it danced on the rim before falling off. It was a fitting end.
In the battle for the best record in the Western Conference, the Warriors (4-2) hung close Friday with gritty defense, the kind of resilience you want from a team claiming to be a contender. And a season-high 21 points from back-up guard Toney Douglas provide absolutely vital.
But the road team didn’t have enough firepower to upset the Spurs (5-1), who have now beaten Golden State in 30 straight regular-season games in San Antonio.
Harrison Barnes had been shackled for a month. You could tell by the hyperactivity when he finally got his first action of the season. He came in and immediately took a 21-footer, on his first touch, nine seconds after checking in. He got a steal right away on defense, then turned it over with a traveling violation. His next touch, one possession later, he took another 21-footer.
He checked in at the 5:33 mark of the second quarter, and 34 seconds later he had four points on 2-for-2 shooting with a steal and a turnover.
“I was just trying to get the jitters out,” Barnes said. “(Andrew) Bogut just told me to breathe.”
Barnes wasn’t the only one happy he was back. The entire Warriors fan base, which had been pining for his return from left toe inflammation, was no doubt thrilled to see Golden State’s budding young star on the court. And he looked pretty good.
He scored 14 points in a game where the bench was the star as the Warriors beat Minnesota, 106-93, for their most meaningful victory of the season. With Barnes providing offense, the usual goon squad took care of the defense, shutting down Timberwolves offense.
“I thought our bench was huge – scoring, rebounding and defending,” coach Mark Jackson said. “Guys came in and gave great minutes and it was a thing of beauty. Harrison was very good for his first game, gave us scoring bunch of the bench made a huge pass to Moe for an open three. It was a good win for us, against a team that other than one night had been playing very, very well.”
More on Wednesday’s win ….
Warriors point guard Stephen Curry got some good new Thursday. An MRI revealed he sustained a bone bruise in his left ankle, per Golden State.
No ankle sprain.
Initially, the Warriors thought it was a bone bruise. After further examination, it was upgraded to an ankle sprain but the MRI revealed the initial diagnosis was correct. Curry is listed as day-to-day.
The injury looked like an ankle sprain. In the third quarter — after he returned from twisting his knee in a tangling with Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio — Curry landed on a defender’s foot while attempting a floater.