Warriors 109, Pistons 95: Andrew Bogut praises Festus Ezeli

Andrew Bogut returned to action after suffering a concussion in a win against the Detroit Pistons, and he is expected to come off the bench again against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

That leaves Festus Ezeli as the starting center for now. Bogut offered praise for Ezeli, a younger player who has taken advantage of his opportunities.

“He’s being aggressive,” Bogut said. “Early on in his career, he was bobbling some balls. He was kind of nervous I guess in spot minutes. But the more minutes that he’s got, he’s become more confident. He’s catching some tougher passes now, and he’s getting them up and dunking on people. He’s getting some offensive rebounds. He’s a beast out there. He’s a big, big guy. He takes up a lot of space. He’s very strong and athletic, and he’s done a great job for us. Defensively, he’s really starting to figure out where you’ve got to affect the game even without scoring.”


Warriors 119, Nuggets 104: Ezeli has created a pleasant problem in the post with Bogut’s return close

Andrew Bogut might be back Saturday night in Sacramento, but more likely Monday night at Oracle against Detroit. When he finally comes back, though, it might not be as the starting center.

Festus Ezeli simply has been too good with the first unit. He scored a career-high 16 points Friday night against Denver, hit all seven of his shots, played splendid defense, ran the floor like a demon and he is flourishing playing with the first unit, specifically with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green lobbing balls to him at the rim. Festus is catching and stuffing everything thrown his way. He’s actually averaging double figures (10.3 ppg) just on dunks and clean-up stuff around the basket, which two years ago would have seemed an impossibility.

Ezeli is clearly the Warriors’ future at center. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the year but there’s no way Joe Lacob and Bob Myers let this kind of young, emerging big man get away. They’ll match any offer, and chances are it won’t even come to that. The Warriors will pay him whatever the market dictates before someone tries to pry him away.
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Warriors 112, Clippers 108: Luke Walton pushes all the right buttons

Assistant coach and temporary head coach Luke Walton talks to Golden State Warriors' Leandro Barbosa (19) during their game against the Toronto Raptors in the second quarter of their preseason NBA game at the SAP Center  in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Assistant coach and temporary head coach Luke Walton talks to Golden State Warriors’ Leandro Barbosa (19) during their game against the Toronto Raptors in the second quarter of their preseason NBA game at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

OAKLAND – It wasn’t long ago in the preseason when Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton was going over the NBA’s timeout rules with Steve Kerr.

During a timeout in Wednesday’s thriller of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Warriors trailing by eight points with 8:19 left in the fourth quarter, Walton knew which buttons to press.

“He came to the huddle telling us they were really excited jumping up and down when they got up eight, and don’t let that deflate us because there’s still eight minutes left,” guard Klay Thompson said. “We crawled back in it. Luke was great out there.”

The Warriors came back and won 112-108 to improve their record to 5-0 under the watchful eye of the 35-year-old Walton.

The Warriors had won so easily in previous games that Walton wasn’t necessarily in the spotlight, not with Stephen Curry going bonkers. The win against the Clippers presented more challenges, with Curry in foul trouble and struggling with his shot early. Walton saw his bench steady the game and then went to a small-ball lineup late in the game to earn the victory.

In support of his players, Walton let the officials have it at times. He also got after his own guys too.

“I’m still laid-back, but I’ve always been competitive,” Walton said. “When you’re in the heat of the battle and you get going, there’s emotions out there, and the guys know that. It’s the same way when I played. It’s just you want to win, and you try everything you can to make that happen, and sometimes that makes you get a little louder than normal and use some words you normally wouldn’t use.”

But still, he’s Cool Luke.

“He’s just like very cool, and he’s always composed,” Thompson said. “He didn’t panic.”


Mychal Thompson agrees Klay, Warriors should try to chase Chicago Bulls’ 72-win-season record and could get 70


Mychal Thompson agrees with his son, Warriors guard Klay Thompson, that Golden State should try to go for the Chicago Bulls’ NBA record of 72 regular-season wins and might to able to at least reach 70.

“If they believe in themselves that much, they have the ability and talent to do it, then that’s the lofty goal that they should try to set, try to chase that Chicago Bulls 72-win-season record,” Mychal Thompson said Wednesday on the ESPN LA radio show he co-hosts. “It’ll be tough to get that obviously, but why not? 70-12? I like the fact that they’re thinking that lofty.

“When I was with the Lakers, when I was playing for (Magic Johnson’s) team, that’s the kind of lofty goals we set…That team that Magic played for, for me that’s the way we thought, so why not think that way if you’re a champion?”

Mychal Thompson at most helped the Lakers win 65 regular-season games in the 1986-87  season when captured the NBA championship. The Warriors after winning 67 regular-season games and the championship last season have started this season 4-0. They never lost three games in a row all season, and Mychal Thompson believes that will continue.

“They’ll have a two-game losing streak at some point, but no more than that,” Mychal Thompson said.

When Klay Thompson was asked Sunday about breaking the Bulls’ record, he at least entertained the idea in a Google Hangouts chat with ShotTracker.

“That’s going to be a tough one,” Klay Thompson said. “We’ll try. There are so many good teams. We’ll try. We did get 67 wins last year, which was an amazing feat. We might be able to get 70. It’s going to depend a lot on health, obviously, and a lot of lucky bounces that go our way.

“Seventy-two wins, that’s a lot of wins, man. I don’t know if that will be done again, but hey man, we might be the team to do it just because we reached 67 last year. And if we stay focused and we take every game serious, we should have a chance to reach 70. It won’t be easy. It will be extremely difficult, but you know what? Why not?”


Warriors 119, Grizzlies 69: No message to the rest of the league needed when it’s about ‘Just Us’

OAKLAND – The big, bad Warriors have embarrassed one Western Conference contender in a 50-point win while Stephen Curry hung 53 points on another in the previous game.

With gaudy, record-setting performances nightly, the Warriors are reminding the rest of the world that in case you missed it, the defending champs will be a major threat to win another title.

But ask the Warriors if there is a message to send to the rest of the league, and they deny it.

“At this point, how many statements can we make?” Draymond Green said.

The Warriors already have one banner to point to and the reigning MVP, too. As coach Steve Kerr kept saying before the season, they no longer have to carry the burden of not having won it all.

So, it’s just about themselves right now.

“Our mantra is ‘Just Us,’ so we continue to focus on just us, just ourselves,” Ezeli said. “We’ve got to keep improving.”

The “Just Us” mentality came out of the Mark Jackson era, and the Warriors have kept it around as a way of reminding themselves to tune out the noise.

On the issue of being lucky winning the championship, the Warriors had their say and have since all but returning fire toward the doubters.

Heading into the Clippers game can be seen in some ways as a fun diversion for the Warriors, who otherwise have their eyes on continuously getting better in advance of their next playoff run.

“It’s about us,” Curry said. “It’s not really about sending a message.

“We know we’re capable of being a better team than last year.”


Warriors 134, Pelicans 120: Luke Walton, Alvin Gentry experience different emotions watching Stephen Curry

NEW ORLEANS – Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry threw up his hands numerous times after Stephen Curry made plays during a 53-point Saturday night.

Gentry last season turned the Warriors into the NBA’s highest-scoring offense. On this night, he was dumbfounded as to why his Pelicans players weren’t able to mount a challenge.

“In the third quarter, he just didn’t feel us,” Gentry said of when Curry scored 28 points. “If you allow him to play that loose, then the result’s going to be that.

“We’ve got to get into him a lot more. Yes, he made some tough shots, but we let him off the look also by letting him get over the top of screens. We weren’t supposed to do that.”

Gentry is comfortable enough with his old championship squad that he made a brief visit to the Warriors’ locker room after the game. He expressed disappointment in his postgame comments after the loss left the Pelicans 0-3 on the season.

Gentry knew all too well how not to go up against the Warriors’ offense he helped build.

“We’re trying to match basket for basket, and that won’t work out against that team right there,” Gentry said. “If you want to match basket for basket, you’re going to lose every time.”

On the other bench, there was joy watching Curry from Gentry’s former co-workers.

“I don’t think from the head coaching seat you get to enjoy it as much the other people in the arena, but I’ll watch it on the flight home tonight,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said. “That was remarkable what he did out there.

“He hits incredible shots, and the first couple times I was on staff here, I’d go nuts on the bench there. nd now, you’re kind of like, ‘OK, that was awesome, but that’s what he does.’”


Warriors 112, Rockets 92: Stephen Curry explains his four crossover dribble: ‘You’re trying to be creative’


Warriors guard Stephen Curry was asked about his dribbling display against the Houston Rockets on Friday and needed a moment to recall which play it was.

If you watched the game, you’d remember it. For Curry, it’s another day at the office weaving past three defenders and flicking a no-look pass with his left hand.

“I think I went for a hesitation,” Curry said. “I was thinking about shooting, and I threw it ahead of me kind of splitting the defense, and at that point it’s just trying to get him (the third man) off-balance a little bit. The same thing like the Clippers game last year, I got a rhythm. I just couldn’t stop until I finally got a window to get the ball to Festus (Ezeli). I was trying to have it on a string and be able to make that play.

“I’ve done four crossovers before, but never in like that little, tight space and situation and try to throw a left-handed pass. All that, you’re trying to be creative.”