David Lee, Stephen Curry Shine as Warriors Beat Los Angeles Lakers in China

No, I’m not in China. But I did watch the Warriors’ 100-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Beijing on Tuesday. As far as the Warriors are concerned, it’s already fair to call the trip to China can be considered a success if only for reason: it got David Lee going.

For the first time this preseason, Lee looked like the All-Star he is. Part of it was the matador defense of Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol. But most of it was the liveliness of Lee. He was simply quicker and more explosive than his Lakers front-court counterparts, and he had various elements of his game was clicking.

That’s a vital step for the Warriors to round into form as the regular season news. They have hardly looked like the team expected to be a force in the Western Conference. But you could see some signs that’s starting to happen.

Lee had 31 points on 12 of 16 shooting in the first of two games against the Lakers in China. Lee made his first seven shots – four layups, two jumpers and a turn-around out of the post – en route to 22 first-half points.

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Harrison Barnes Gets First Crack as Mark Jackson Experiments with Starting Lineups

ONTARIO, Calif. — Mark Jackson said he’s not into playing mind games. If he knew who his starters were for the season, he would just say it. He doesn’t, he assured. He’s still trying to figure out which lineup gives his Warriors the best chance to win.

It is with that context he revealed guard Klay Thompson, who has started 122 consecutive games with Golden State (including playoffs), will come off the bench for tonight’s preseason opener.

Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala will start in the backcourt, with Harrison Barnes, David Lee and center Andrew Bogut will start against the Los Angeles Lakers at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Is this insight into Jackson’s first choice, or is this his I’m-not-going-to-show-my-cards-early lineup? Is he anointing Barnes or motivating Thompson? Has Iguodala an automatic starter?

“Truthfully,” Jackson said, “there is zero to read into it.”

The Warriors, who have all five starters from last season, found themselves with a good problem to have by acquiring Iguodala — giving them six players capable of starting.

Curry, Lee and Bogut are etched in stone as long as they’re healthy, per Jackson. That leaves three wing players and two starting spots available. Jackson said he will use the preseason to experiment, figure out which five is the best fit. The odd man out will serve as the sixth man.

He said Thompson will get a chance to start this preseason. He also suggested you may see Iguodala come off the bench at some point in the exhibition.

“Don’t read anything into it,” Jackson reiterated. “It’s just the way we’re starting tonight. You could go either way. Klay and Iguodala (starting) or Klay and Barnes. … All those guys are going to play a lot. This is just the way I’m starting tonight.”

Here is a break down of each scenario:

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Skinny Warriors looking to pick up the pace

Andrew Bogut has lost about 15 to 18 pounds. Draymond Green shed about 20. David Lee is now looking like he should be standing in front of Abercrombie & Fitch. Jermaine O’Neal is hardly looking like a guy entering his 18th season.

Clearly, the Warriors took advantage of the offseason. The improved conditioning has already impacted training camp. The pace is faster. The energy is high.

“They are in shape,” coach Mark Jackson said, “and now its just a question of developing chemistry and a sense of what we are trying to do on both ends of the court.”

He wants the Warriors to play at an even faster pace now that all are healthy and his big men are conditioned to run. Jackson said he isn’t content with just going small to pick up the pace. But he wants to run even with his big men in the game.

Jackson said since his guys – most of whom have been working out in Oakland since early September – came to camp in shape, he doesn’t have to worry about that. He said there’s no need to go “White Shadow” on them and have them running lines.

Instead, Jackson has already begun diving into the playbook.

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The Curry rivalry is about to reach new heights


They went at each other as kids on their home court. As preteens they went one-on-one full court at the Toronto Raptors practice facility while their dad was at work. They played pick-up games around the way as teenagers and college students. Every summer lately, they workout together, keeping each other sharp.

Now, brothers Stephen and Seth Curry, are facing off in training camp. The older a bonafide stud, the younger trying to prove he belongs at this level.

Think it’ll be different?

“We’ll see when practice comes around,” Seth said while flashing a sneaky smile. “I think so. We’ll see how it goes in an organized, practice setting.”

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Warriors Taking Dwight Howard Matters in their Own Hands??

According to ESPN, the Warriors are aggressively shopping centers Andrew Bogut and Andris Biedrins, and forward Richard Jefferson. Why? Golden State wants to prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from hatin’ on their Dwight Howard pursuit.

The Warriors are $11 million over the projected salary cap (at about $69.9 million including Kent Bazemore), not including the cap holds. That means in order to get Howard, the Warriors would have to agree to a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Reports are the Lakers aren’t interested in working a sign-and-trade and would rather let Howard walk and save the luxury tax bill. And they certainly aren’t keen on strengthening a division rival. And whatever hopes the Warriors have of convincing the Lakers to deal, many suspect, would involve giving up young stars Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes.

But the Warriors don’t want to give up either. According to a source, their pitch to Dwight Howard on Monday — in which I am told Mark Jackson shined — included Howard playing with Curry AND Thompson AND Barnes. Those prospects intrigued Howard, as Marc Stein reported. So much so, the Warriors are now actively trying to create enough salary cap space so they don’t need to do a sign-and-trade with the Lakers.

It’s a monumental task, to be sure. The projected salary cap is $58.5 million, which means the Warriors would need to cut their salary down to $38 million or less to have the space needed to pay Howard the max contract he commands.

Cutting that much money would require the Warriors moving their three major expiring contracts: Bogut ($14 million), Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million). Dumping all three without taking any money back would chop $34 million off the Warriors’ cap figure, getting them down to about $35 million. (NOTE: They would have to renounce the rights to their free agents, including Jarrett Jack, to remove their capholds).

The difficult part, finding teams to take on those big contracts getting anything (or much) in return.

The Warriors would need to find teams with enough cap space to absorb their expiring contracts. That’s probably easiest to do with Bogut because in addition to being an expiring contract he is a legit center when healthy. Teams like Portland, Atlanta and Cleveland are in need of a good, defensive center.

Then the Warriors could use a future draft pick to pair with Jefferson to sweeten his salary dump. To sweeten Biedrins’ dump, the Warriors could send a team $3 million in cash considerations, trimming Biedrins’ salary to $6 million.

Another route the Warriors can go is to raise the stakes and adding Lee’s contract. Pairing Lee with one or more of the expirings would allow the Warriors to dump the contracts while being able to take a contract back. For example, Bogut + Lee + Biedrins is $37 million in salary. Golden State could take back up to $14 million in contracts and still would have accomplished the task.

But what if the Warriors trade Bogut and Howard decides to stay with Los Angeles or go to Houston? That wouldn’t happen, per one source. The Warriors are paving the way to be able to get under the cap if Howard says yes (which he hasn’t yet).

At this stage, anyway, teams can only agree to deals. No trades can be completed until the league-wide moratorium ends. So if Howard chooses elsewhere, GSW can cancel the deals. They may even know Howard’s answer before the moratorium ends anyway, if reports are true that Howard will decide by Friday.


Stephen Curry Ankle Update: X-Rays Negative; Early Game A Factor in His Chances of Playing

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is a game-time decision with a sprained left ankle.
X-rays were negative, a team official said, and no MRI was scheduled. Curry is getting ‘round-the-clock treatment. Officially he’s a game-time decision. But his chances of playing are made dicey by the earlier start. Sunday’s game tips off at 12:30, giving Curry about 36 hours of rest and rehabilitation.
MARK JACKSON: “Again, as usual, just staying true to the process. He’ll get treatment all day long. I’ll stay in constant contact with him. We’ll see how he feels and make a decision whether he plays or not tomorrow.”
At the 4:40 mark of the fourth quarter in Game 3, Curry, dribbling at the top, rolled his left ankle. He immediately began limping and gave up the ball. The Warriors eventually fouled to stop play, but he stayed in the game, waving off the substation.
It’s not his surgically repaired right ankle, which has given him problems the previous two seasons. It was the same ankle Curry sprained in Game 2 at Denver. It hadn’t been a problem since he got his second anti-inflammatory injection just before Game 4 at Oracle. Golden State had three days off before the Spurs series.
Curry has been the heart and soul of the Warriors (already without All-Star forward David Lee) and without him, their chances at upsetting No. 2 San Antonio appear suspect.
KLAY THOMPSON: “He’ll play. No question about it. He will play through anything. He’s got heart.”


Warriors’ Win Gives David Lee Something to Smile About

When rookie forward Harrison Barnes drove the lane and dunked it backwards over Nuggets forward Anthony Randolph, Golden State’s bench went crazy in celebration. Warriors forward David Lee, on the bench in a blazer, wanted to join them. But with his torn right hip flexor, which has knocked him out for the rest of the playoffs, he had to be very careful with his celebration.

LEE: “I had to wait an extra second to stand up. I had to let the traffic clear out, then I stood up and cheered.”

It’s killing Lee to not be out there. But he said it didn’t bother him at all watching the performance his teammates put together in Tuesday’s improbable win at Denver, the Nuggets first home loss in more than four months.

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