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Game 82 rewind: Warriors coach Mark Jackson emphasizes that ‘it’s been an awesome year’

DENVER — Warriors coach Mark Jackson rattled off the team’s list of achievements after a win against Denver gave them 51 victories to finish the regular season.

The 51 wins tied for the third-most in franchise history.

The team finished 20 games over .500, doing so for the first time since the 1991-92 season.

The 24 road victories this season tied a franchise record.

“It’s an incredible group, and it’s been an awesome year,” Jackson said. “It’s been an awesome year. I’ll say it again, it’s been an awesome year.

“It’s an awesome accomplishment. Like we said, we’re not done. But we’re going to celebrate every step of the way.”

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The road ahead appears difficult with the Warriors facing a No. 3-seeded Los Angeles Clippers team that presents a great challenge with no Andrew Bogut available due to injury.

But Jackson will cherish this team.

Even hours before the win at shootaround, he grew emotional in discussing how his players had gathered around him for a group hug after win No. 50.

“I love these guys. It means a lot, and it shows that we’re tied-together team,” Jackson said.

“It’s ministry to me to come here and impact guys, and for them to show that type of love and support means a lot. There’s still work to be done. I’m sure one day I’ll sit down and even when I’m home, you get emotional about it because it’s special. It’s special, and I don’t take it for granted.”

Jackson said such displays were unnecessary.

“They make a statement by the way they play. They make a statement by the way they defend, the way they’re unselfish, the way they’re professional, the way there’s no issues. That’s the loudest statement that they can make.”

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Game 81 rewind: Occasion of 50th win allows Warriors to make another strong statement for Mark Jackson

MarkJackson

Man … way, way too much to write about on this night. Andrew Bogut’s injury. Stephen Curry going off yet again with a 30-point, 14-assist game. Draymond Green delivering career highs in points and rebounds — 20 and 12, respectively — and how about this number? Plus-27. David Lee, looking almost like the old David Lee after a rough start, hitting 12 of 14 shots from the floor. Klay Thompson coming up with another marvelous two-way performance. And we’ll give a nod to the amazing Kevin Love, too, who scored 22 first-quarter points to shoot Minnesota out to a 19-point lead at one point and finishing with 40 in a losing cause.

But at the end of the day — and that phrasing is key here — it was all about Mark Jackson. At the final buzzer of Win No. 50, several of the heroes on this night made a beeline for the bench and swarmed their coach. They jumped up and down around him and made a point to demonstrate how much their sideline leader has been responsible for these 50 wins, and a second straight berth in the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.

Even Jackson seemed taken aback by the emotional demonstration as someone who, depending on who you want to believe, might be on his way out. Quite honestly, it’s tough to see that happening if Warriors management has any degree of sanity whatsoever. You’re going to alienate Curry right now? You’re going to upset the whole dynamic this team clearly has under Jackson, whose No. 1 strength these past two years has been making these guys believe they could be winners simply by showing unwavering faith in them.

But first, what was it like being in the middle of that celebration?

“I didn’t expect it,” Jackson said. “I saw them jumping up and down and I was like, `What are you guys up to?’ The next thing I knew, they were all around me and it got hot. Obviously, I love these guys to death. I appreciate everything they’ve done, the way they’ve conducted themselves, how they’ve fought and continue to fight. One thing I learned from my dad the last six months of his life is that you have to show emotion and appreciation. It’s all right for men to say `I love you,’ it’s all right to hug, it’s all right to embrace and it’s all right to cry. There’s no shame in my game. I’m going to celebrate every moment, and it’s going to make some people mad. But I wasn’t always like I am today, and I thank God for this group and this platform.”

For those who think all Jackson does is process corny cliches and over-effusive epithets, take another good read of those powerful words. That all came from the heart, and one can only imagine what types of words of inspiration he gives to his players in behind-closed-doors sessions. It’s no wonder he’s so beloved by the people who wear the uniforms, if not so much those who sit upstairs in the suits and ties. This is a man of character and substance. And he has molded a group of men who play and comport themselves with character and substance. It didn’t happen by accident.
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Game 80 rewind: Warriors feeling good after Stephen Curry goes for 47 in overtime loss at Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Warriors have said that above all they were more concerned about playing well at the end of the season. That’s why there were positive vibes that came out of a 119-117 overtime loss at Portland.

The Warriors clawed back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit and got the game-tying shot from Draymond Green. They saw Stephen Curry get red hot and hang 47 points on the playoff-bound Trail Blazers. At this stage, Golden State will take that.

AP Photo/Steve Dykes

AP Photo/Steve Dykes

With a playoff series likely against the Los Angeles Clippers looming, the Warriors appear dangerous. Green, who is adjusting back to a bench role after David Lee regained his position in the starting lineup, embodied that with a big shot.

“He’s not afraid of the moment, a guy that’s always ready,” coach Mark Jackson said. “Played big for us, the numbers don’t do him justice, but made a big shot for us, and we expect that from him.”

Jackson beamed about Curry dishing off to Green and then Andre Iguodala for the 3-point attempt that rimmed out on the final possession in overtime. Curry had a chance for 50, but made the right decision, Jackson said.

Forty-seven points, of course, is still 47 points and tied for the second most Curry has scored in a single game in his career.

“I don’t know why people continue to be so amazed by it,” Green said of Curry’s performance, smiling. “I’m amazed when he doesn’t do that. I’m used to seeing it. Nonetheless, it’s still amazing.”

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Warriors’ Ognjen Kuzmic’s D-League dominance turns heads

EL SEGUNDO – Bosnian-born big man Ognjen Kuzmic concluded his postgame interview with some self-deprecating humor.

“Hopefully you understand something, guys,” Kuzmic said, knowing his English isn’t the greatest.

The Santa Cruz Warriors 7-footer had dominated on the court with a 23-point, 18-rebound performance to close out Los Angeles in a playoff series Saturday that any basketball observer could appreciate. He was 10 for 13 from the field, leaving Santa Cruz general manager Kirk Lacob tweeting about “#WiltKuzmic” and fans in the crowd “Kuz-ing.”

Golden State hasn’t offered much playing time for the 2012 second-round pick, but at Santa Cruz he is learning. Two days earlier in Game 1 of the series, he had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

“He’s one of those guys that kind of needs to experience it,” Santa Cruz coach Casey Hill said. “Like he catches the ball on the block and scores the first time, he’s going to be more aggressive because his confidence is up. He doesn’t, it’s going to be different.”

One Santa Cruz staffer paying close attention to Kuzmic is player development coach Brian Scalabrine, who was once an NBA big man on the end of the bench as well.

“It’s helped a lot because Brian, he was playing there (in the NBA) and he can understand, so he’s telling me what to do on defense and offense,” Kuzmic said.

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Warriors’ Nemanja Nedovic back in action for Santa Cruz after collision with Ognjen Kuzmic left him with concussion

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Nemanja Nedovic, the Warriors’ first-round pick, had to deal with yet another injury last week after Santa Cruz teammate Ognjen Kuzmic’s hip collided with his head and caused a concussion.

Nedovic returned to action Thursday and scored 10 points in Santa Cruz’s playoff win against Los Angeles, but not before enduring a week away from the game while dealing with a concussion for the first time.

“It was boring as hell because I couldn’t do anything,” Nedovic said Saturday before Santa Cruz played at Los Angeles. “I couldn’t watch TV. I couldn’t be on my phone, be on my laptop, nothing. Just laying down for five days.”

It hasn’t been an easy year for Nedovic, who has missed games due to a left hamstring strain and right foot inflammation this season. He also had strep throat. He could be recalled to the Warriors for the playoffs, but coach Mark Jackson indicated earlier this week he’d need to get back on the floor first.

“It was important for me to get some playing time,” Nedovic said. “This is the best chance for it, so I’m trying to use this as much as I can. I’ve had to deal with some injuries. It was really important for me to get back into game shape.”

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Game 79 rewind: Stephen Curry does a little bit of everything to lift Warriors to playoff berth again

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES — Amusingly, Klay Thompson was close to grabbing the rebound with 41.9 seconds left in the game that went on to give Stephen Curry a triple-double.

“Let him get it!” Draymond Green yelled out.

And so Curry got it, giving the Warriors star guard a moment to remember as his 30 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists helped the team clinch a playoff berth for a second straight season.

Like they have all season, the Warriors rode Curry to victory, this one a . They weren’t messing around after dropping yet another home game in a stunning loss to Denver the previous night that prevented them from clinching.

“It’s what superstars do,” coach Mark Jackson said of Curry’s evening. “He’s a guy that was very upset last night after the game. He talked about it, he expressed it, and on top of that, what the special players do is that they do something about it in between the lines.

“His will, his determination, his competitive spirit carried us tonight. Just a big-time victory.”

Curry became the first Warriors player to notch at least four triple-doubles in a single season since Wilt Chamberlain did it 50 years ago.

“Any time you’re on a list with a Hall of Famer, legend is special,” Curry said. “I wear the Warrior uniform with pride. It’s the only one I’ve worn, and I feel at home here. So any time I can do something that hasn’t been done in the franchise in a long time, it means a lot. I just need to go out and play my hardest and try to lead the team where we want to go.”

Wherever the Warriors do go, the All-Star Curry deserves a bulk of the credit for helping change the culture and lead the team to consecutive playoff appearances.

Nobody could ever take that away from him.

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Game 78 rewind: Warriors get ‘Mozgoved’ by Nuggets in 100-99 loss

OAKLAND — To get “Mozgoved” is to be on the wrong end of a crazy dunk.

Denver’s Timofey Mozgov had that term coined after Blake Griffin dunked all over him one time, and really to get “Mozgoved” is really to get embarrassed by opponent.

Mozgov on Thursday served to pound the Warriors not with one dunk, but again and again as he matched a career high 23 points and racked up a career-high 29 rebounds to help hand Golden State an embarrassing 100-99 loss.

The Warriors had a chance to clinch a playoff berth and instead fell to an injury-plagued Nuggets team that used eight players to dominate the glass.

“We just didn’t put them away when we could,” said coach Mark Jackson, whose team blew a 20-point lead.

“We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of business.”

The loss was just another on a long list of home setbacks to subpar teams this season. If co-owner Joe Lacob thought some of those earlier losses were “disturbing,” this one couldn’t have made him feel any better about the state of affairs.

Oracle Arena was ready to explode with a win, and instead, Golden State came out of the contest having reminded everyone how despite their achievement of a fine record that hasn’t been seen here in a long time, there continue to be troubling signs about this team.

“I’m not concerned,” Jackson said. “I think it’s part of the process.”

The problem is, the inconsistent Warriors apparently had one more of these kinds of bad losses in them even after constant reminders that they needed to be better than that.

In this game, Mozgov of all people came through with a big performance just to add another log to the fire. He had 29 rebounds all by himself. The Warriors as a team had 38. That’s not going to get it done.