He had a torn hip flexor muscle. Was done for the season. And then Thursday night at Oracle Arena in a crucial Game 6, there he was. Lee wasn’t much of a factor in his one minute of play, missing his only shot. But he certainly stirred the emotions of a fan base hungry to close out the Nuggets.
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According to multiple team sources, the Warriors initiated extension talks with guard Jarrett Jack back in January. But Jack shut down such talks before they got rolling, looking to focus on the season and wanting to experience free agency.
Jack, who drew interest from multiple teams during the trade deadline, is in the last year of his contract paying him $5 million this season. He is expected to be a fairly well sought after this offseason, especially with the postseason he’s having, as multiple teams are looking for a point guard. Multiple teams are looking for point guards — including Utah, Charlotte, Toronto and possibly Milwaukee (since Brandon Jennings is a restricted free agent). Plus, Jack has proven to be a difference-maker off the bench, which has intrigued multiple teams that already have a point guard, such as the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.
Jack has been an integral part of the Warriors’ success this season, averaging 12.9 points and 5.6 assists off the bench in 29.7 minutes off the bench. He is a respected voice in the locker room and has proven a capable option when starter Stephen Curry out of the lineup.
But will Jack turn down a lucrative offer from another team? Will the Warriors be be able and willing to match or compete?
Money, however, isn’t the only obstacle. Golden State will have to determine if it wants to commit so many minutes to Jack. As it stands now, Jack is playing minutes in the fourth quarter at the expense of rookie forward Harrison Barnes. A bigger role for Barnes would probably mean a smaller roll for Jack (since sitting Curry or second-year guard Klay Thompson is not an option).
Warriors general manager Bob Myers declined to comment until after the season.
“I believe everything will work out,” Jack said in a previous interview. “I want to be here and if they want me here, it will work out.”
The NBA announced Warriors head coach Mark Jackson has been fined $25,000 for making public comments in an attempt to influence the officiating.
The fine, levied by Stu Jackson, the NBA executive vice president basketball operations, were based on comments Jackson made after the Warriors lost Game 5 at Denver.
Jackson said the Nuggets were roughing up point guard Stephen Curry. He was especially upset that in the first quarter, Denver forward Kenneth Faried tried to trip Curry — which Jackson took as an attempt at Curry’s oft-injured ankles.
It is widely believed, and obviously the NBA thinks so, that Jackson was setting the tone for Game 6. Curry, despite Denver’s physical play, didn’t get to the free throw line once in Game 5.
Is the league out of line for this fine, or did Jackson earn it?
Game 6 just got that much more interesting.
What started as a blowout ended as a nail biter with a little drama on the way out. The Nuggets survived with a 107-100 win in Game 5, nearly blowing a 22-point lead. Golden State’s comeback not only put a bit of fear in Denver, but made it even more eager to close the series out in Game 6.
KLAY THOMPSON: “This one stings. It would’ve been nice to have a few days off. We just have to play like it’s Game 7 on Thursday. Treat it like it’s our last home game.”
The Warriors knew Denver, behind on the scorecards, was going for the knockout. Admittedly, they were woozy after the Nuggets early onslaught. But they left the Pepsi Center foaming at the mouth for another crack at the Nuggets. They took what they thought was Denver’s best punch and still almost won.
It’s far from the doubt a blowout loss could have created, as the pressure shifts to Golden State to avoid a Game 7 in Denver.
STEPHEN CURRY: “We gave (them) a 20-point lead and they did all they could to try to take us out of our game. And we figured out a way to make it interesting down the stretch. I feel like our confidence is high.”
More on the Game 5 loss …
Warriors point guard Stephen Curry smiled while, as he usually does, he sauntered across the locker room for the exit. The question was short and simple, how do you feel.
Curry’s response: “I feel good, boss.” Then he started clapping. The same kind of clapping he does when he’s hype, like he did after that three-point play during his majestic run in the third quarter of Game 4.
His eye is still red. But his ankle, which he sprained 10 days ago in Game 1, should be feeling better as well. And the hamstring, which tightened from a hard fall on his butt in Game 3, is feeling better.
JACKSON: “There are no limitations. We haven’t practiced much but he has been getting treatment and been steady with that. He feels fine. I think his body is beat up – his eye, his ankle, his leg. But he’s a gamer. It’s been impressive to see how true he is to treatment and how tough he is in the game.”
More notes heading into Game 5…
George Karl wouldn’t give away his game plan, but he said several players will have their turn at defending Curry. Expect to see Andre Iguodala and even defensive specialist Julyan Stone, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound guard in his second year out of Texas El Paso. But mostly, expect Curry to be trapped and pressured a lot.
KARL: “We’ll mix up the matchups tonight. … Curry has been under control a lot and then he explodes. He just has a momentum. He takes control of the game. I think we have to be more careful of that maybe even put Julyan Stone, one of our better defenders, on him and give him two or three minutes of assignment to slow (Curry) down.”
Another thing you can expect is the Nuggets to go back to their usual lineup. They Nuggets have tried to match the Warriors, and it hasn’t worked. The Warriors can simply shoot better than Denver. Kenneth Faried’s comments about “not playing Nuggets basketball” highlights the sentiment around Denver: the Nuggets made a mistake goings mall. Expect them to go back to the big lineup (even if not to start the game) and let Bogut bang against a center, let Faried play against a guy his size, and try to dominate the boards.
One player who is enjoying single coverage is Carl Landry. He knows it’s hard for a defense to commit an extra man to the post because the Warriors guards are such good shooters. So Landry is licking his chops when he gets to go to work against his man.
LANDRY: “Hopefully all of us our confident enough to feel like the guy in front of us can’t stop us. It’s not just me, but all of us, when you see one-on-one defense, your eyes light up.”
Draymond Green saw my tweet about how he has the best 3-point percentage on the team in the playoffs. He got a good laugh out of that
To think, the legendary performance by Warriors point guard Stephen Curry on Sunday almost didn’t happen.
Before he went off for 22 points in the third quarter — powering the run that turned a close game into a 115-101 Warriors win over Denver in Game 4 — coach Mark Jackson considered shutting Curry down for the game. Still bothered by his sprained left ankle, Curry wasn’t looking too good early on.
MARK JACKSON: “It was almost like a boxer who knew he was on the ropes. I guess he realized and sensed it. He captured the moment. He embraced the moment. … It was almost like he had been waiting for this his entire career and he wasn’t going to allow his body to tell him it was too hurt to match the moment. It was an incredible, incredible performance by him.”
With a shooting display befitting of a video game, Curry led the Warriors on a 25-10 run to close the third quarter and turn a close game into a spectacle. His memorable display gave command of the series to the Warriors, who are now a win away from upsetting the No. 3 seed and advancing to the second round to take on No. 2 San Antonio.
STEPHEN CURRY: “I was just able to get good looks,” Curry said. “I felt a little warmer, body wise, in the third quarter and was able to get a rhythm.”
More on the Game 4 win…
The wife of head coach Mark Jackson, Desiree Coleman Jackson, will sing the national anthem for tonight’s game against the Warriors.
She’s an accomplished singer who has performed on Broadway, did an album on Motown and was the protege of Patti LaBelle. She is the co-pastor at Jackson’s church, True Love Worship Center International, in Van Nuys, Calif.
MARK JACKSON: “I always say she has way more talent than me.”
It wasn’t pretty, certainly not like Game 2 in Denver. And they nearly gave it away.
But the Warriors, like they have so many times this season, grinded one out. They took control of the series by outlasting the Denver Nuggets in a fight, 110-108, overcoming a desperate Nuggets squad and their own mistakes.
MARK JACKSON: “We’re tied together, we compete and we’re a defensive-minded team. When you make defensive your primary focus, you’re going to be in ball games. … We gave up 42 second-half points because we locked in and we competed.”
The Warriors’ didn’t dominate on offense like they did in Game 2, when they made Denver’s head spin with 131 points on 64.6 percent shooting. And their defense wasn’t good throughout the game. Nuggets guard Ty Lawson torched the Warriors with 35 points and 10 assists. Denver racked up 66 first-half points on 53.3 percent shooting.
But Golden State clamped down when they absolutely had to and head into Sunday with a chance to take command of this series.
More on the Game 3 win…
When the pregame stuff settled and all his attention turned to the court, coach Mark Jackson noticed something that had him shaking his head. Unbeknownst to him, point guard Stephen Curry had taken off the brace protecting his sprained left ankle.
MARK JACKSON: “I’ve learned very early, he’s very slick with his. So he picks and chooses the time in which he thinks I’m not looking. So when I found out, he was already running up and down the court.”
Clearly, Curry was fine.
I had a chance to talk with ESPN analyst Bruce Bowen, the former standout defender for the San Antonio Spurs. I asked him how he would defend Stephen Curry.
“I wouldn’t try to force him to do anything. I would play him straight up because he is too good. He takes advantage whenever you try to force him to do something. He is really good at countering. I wouldn’t force him left or force him right, I wouldn’t make him pass and I certainly wouldn’t let him shoot. He is such a smart player and has so much skill, all he does is see what you’re trying to do to him and counter. I would take away the three. You can’t let him shoot the three, so I would take away that. But I would play him straight up and take away the 3.”
I asked Bowen if, as a defender, Curry impresses him. He laughed and said of course not: “His daddy is Dell Curry. What you’d expect? That’s the family business.”
Bowen did say he was proud of Curry. He said he remembers seeing him as a little kid with his father.
“This isn’t an accident. He was in practice with his dad in Charlotte putting up a thousand shots a day. He’s worked his tail off to get this good. I’m just proud of the work he’s put in.”