7

Warriors Can Clinch No. 6 Seed, Curry Can Set Record at Portland on Wednesday

It was looking suspect for a while. But eventually, point guard Stephen Curry took over and the Warriors put away San Antonio’s second string.

Curry finished with 35 points on 13 of 23 shooting (including 7 3-pointers). He knocked down 6 3-pointers in the second half, sending Oracle into a frenzy, chanting “Cur-ry! Cur-ry! Cur-ry!” Eventually, the Warriors put away the Spurs, who played without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw.

Here is the breakdown:

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19

It’s done: Chris Webber returns

After a 14-year hiatus, Chris Webber is going to be a Warrior again.

A team source said that Webber, who arrived in Oakland as the No. 1 overall pick from the 1993 NBA draft but left the following year after a vicious falling-out with coach Don Nelson, is expected to sign a one-year contract with Golden State either tonight or Tuesday. Another source confirmed the team has put in for waivers on injured guard Troy Hudson, clearing the way for Webber, a five-time All-Star, to join the club.

An official announcement is not expected until Tuesday, and Webber most likely won’t join the team until Thursday, when it returns from a two-day road trip to Houston and New Orleans.

Webber, who has not played this season, also had interest from the Lakers, but went with Golden State after Los Angeles reportedly asked him to work on a tryout basis under two 10-day contracts before getting a season-long deal.

Webber’s deal is expected to be worth approximately $550,000, although the Warriors will be reimbursed roughly $200,000 from the league under salary cap rules meant to encourage the signing of veteran free agents.

A Warriors spokesman, citing team policy, declined to comment on the impending deal, which will reunite Webber and Nelson for the first time since 1993-94. The pair helped Golden State win 50 games that season and earned a playoff berth, but cracks in the relationship started to become public in January and February, and after the season, Webber exercised an opt-out clause in his 15-year, $74 million contract.

Webber held out until November 1994, when Golden State worked out a sign-and-trade deal with the Washington Bullets, shipping out Webber in exchange for Tom Gugliotta and three first-round selections. Nelson stepped down as the club’s general manager and coach in February 1995. The franchise didn’t garner another playoff berth — or even a winning record, for that matter — until Nelson returned last season.

The Warriors’ interest in Webber came to light last week, although it may have been going on for significantly longer than that. Sources said that Nelson and Webber have talked through any residual enmity, and Nelson said he has no fears of a repeat performance.

“I look back on it . . . and we were both pretty stubborn,” Nelson said. “I was maybe too tough and he was too young to see the positives that I was trying to bring to the table. But anyway, I think I’ve learned and I think he has too. Hey, I’m an old man and he’s an old player. There’s a lot of common sense to it.”

And a lot of media craziness, too. Let the circus commence.

– Geoff

13

Ribs yes, Webber no

So shootaround was spent chasing down the latest Chris Webber-returning-to-the-Warriors rumor, which was spawned by Marty McNeal’s report in the Sacramento Bee that Don Nelson had been spotted chowing down at C-Webb’s restaurant.

Nelson copped to noshing at Webber’s place — he pulled in with assistant Larry Riley when a Warriors contingent went up to Sacramento to scout the Memphis Grizzlies, who played the Kings on Jan. 10 and the Warriors the following night. But he wouldn’t comment on any theoretical reunion with Webber, who won the 1993-94 NBA Rookie of the Year award before falling out with Nelson and eventually being dealt to the Washington Bullets.

“You need to talk to Mully about those situations,” Nelson said. “You can talk to me about the ribs. Best in Northern California. Unbelievable, juicy. I got the barbecue and a baked potato and a couple of beers. Or it could have been scotches.”

Was Webber at the grill?

“No, he wasn’t there,” Nelson said. “That’s the other funny thing.”

Heeding Nelson’s instructions, executive vice president Chris Mullin was next. Just before signing point guard C.J. Watson, Mullin said that he was keeping his eyes open in the short-term for a guard and a big man. With Watson working out nicely, that leaves room for a center, no?

“We’re going to look at a lot of different things,” Mullin said. “A big guy with skill, yeah, that’s something we could use.”

At 34 years old and having been out of the league for eight months, does Webber still fit that bill?

“That’s debatable,” Mullin said. “I can’t say what he’s got left. I couldn’t elaborate on that.”

Last January, when Webber was bought out by the Philadelphia 76ers, Nelson said it would probably be a bad idea to have him re-team with the five-time All-Star.

It’s not any better of an idea now. I can’t imagine Webber would be able to keep up with this team’s pace, and he certainly doesn’t want to be stuck in the low post, which is where the Warriors could use the most help from any new big man. I don’t doubt that the Warriors have kicked around Webber’s name in discussing what players might help them, but as shown by Watson signing, the team is more likely to bring in a younger guy on the way up than a veteran with a high probability of getting hurt.

In short, if you want a Nellie/C-Webb reunion, by a Run-TMC DVD.

– Geoff