By Geoff Lepper
Warriors coach Don Nelson said Wednesday that he wants to treat tonight’s exhibition finale against the New Orleans Hornets as if it were a regular-season game, with a typical rotation and a closing lineup meant to procure a win.
So when Nelson listed his expected starting lineup — which already featured Corey Maggette in place of the injured Anthony Randolph — it came as a bit of a shock when C.J. Watson was the first name out of his mouth.
C.J. Watson? A guy who strained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee three weeks ago? Really? Over a healthy Anthony Morrow, who’s been the Warriors’ best player in this exhibition season? Over a healthy Stephen Curry, who is already after three weeks as a pro Golden State’s best facilitator of ball movement?
Sure. This is Don Nelson, after all, whose motivational techniques never lack for bluntness. (Recall the Rob Kurz-over-Randolph situation early last season.)
I think there’s a two-fold dynamic in play here. Watson said Wednesday that his right knee is only back to 75 or 80 percent of full strength, and he’s logged less than 100 minutes of play in three exhibition games this season, so there’s a question of conditioning and using the last chance to really get Watson back into game shape.
There’s also certainly a component meant to keep expectations for Curry from getting out of control. There are going to be struggles for any rookie point guard, no matter how highly prized he may be — Steve Nash, for example, shot 42.3 percent from the floor as a backup to Jason Kidd in 1996-97, and committed a turnover just less than once in every four plays.
So to throw Curry out there on Opening Night as a starter, alongside Monta Ellis and (if Randolph still isn’t ready) Maggette in a lineup that will get slaughtered defensively, may not be the wisest course of action.
By Geoff Lepper
The NBA’s All-Star break does not come at the halfway point of its season, of course. So instead of 41 games remaining to right the ship, the Warriors have only 28 contests left – not nearly enough time to transform their 19-35 record into anything resembling a playoff contender’s mark.
What, then, can we take away from the first two-thirds of Golden State’s 2008-09 season? And what can we look forward to as the final weeks tick away? Here are the assessments of one observer:
MID-TERM GRADE: B.
WORK TO DATE: His rebounding ability at power forward shored up the Warriors’ small-ball lineup, and ranking third in the league in 3-point percentage (46.2) was a great bonus. Still has too much of a propensity to not see open teammates, but he is showing improvement there, with an AST/TO ratio since Jan. 1 of 1.64. (Prior to that this season, he was at 1.12; in his previous two NBA seasons, he was at 1.06).
GOALS FOR APRIL 15: Prove that his shooting from distance is something the Warriors can count on long-term, and not just an aberration.
By Geoff Lepper
OAKLAND — It looked like a bad right ankle sprain for Warriors center Andris Biedrins when he suffered it on Friday in Golden State’s 115-105 loss to Phoenix, and that fear was realized Saturday. A team spokesman said that Biedrins will probably miss at least three games, not to return until Golden State’s first game after the All-Star break, at the earliest.
If that holds true, Biedrins – who has only missed seven games over the last 2 1/2 seasons, six due to an emergency appendectomy last year and one because of a sprained wrist last month – will be absent against Utah on Sunday, New York on Tuesday and Portland on Thursday. The Warriors’ post-All-Star opener is set for Feb. 18 against the Lakers.
Warriors coach Don Nelson said the team will start Ronny Turiaf in Biedrins’ place, and dropped enough hints that it seems clear his first option off the bench will be Rob Kurz, with Jermareo Davidson next.
Nelson said that while Anthony Randolph has not been placed back “on ice,” he’s not considered a 5 by the coaching staff – so don’t hold your breath waiting for a big uptick in the rookie’s minutes.
By Geoff Lepper
OAKLAND — Andris Biedrins, the Warriors’ final iron-man candidate, will not make an appearance in all 82 games this season.
Biedrins, who hadn’t missed any of Golden State’s first 42 contests, will sit out Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder due to a sprained left wrist, Warriors coach Don Nelson said.
“We never want to come out here knowing (Biedrins) is not going to be on our bench,” Stephen Jackson said. “That’s (12.0) rebounds we’ve got to account for.”
Biedrins suffered the injury in Golden State’s 119-98 win over the Washington Wizards on Monday, although he wasn’t certain of when specifically it happened, a team spokesman said. Biedrins was not available for comment at shootaround Wednesday morning.
Most teammates didn’t realize Biedrins had been hurt until he complained of pain at practice on Tuesday.
By Geoff Lepper
OAKLAND — Warriors guard Monta Ellis participated Tuesday in his first 5-on-5 drills of the season, mostly of the half-court variety. And with the team announcing that Marco Belinelli would miss 10 days, at a minimum, because of his badly sprained right ankle, the idea of seeing Ellis get on the court must be growing that much more alluring.
Ellis played on the White team (the reserves), in a small ball lineup alongside C.J. Watson, Marcus Williams (back from the flu), Jermareo Davidson and Rob Kurz. Ellis still wasn’t going 100 percent — this was the portion of practice where the Warriors work on individual sets, so it was a clear step down from the level of effort in a full-court scrimmage — but it is the closest he’s come to full-speed work since tearing up his left ankle in an August moped accident.
Ellis guarded Corey Maggette at the 3, and his mid-range jumper looked as smooth as ever as he dropped it in from 18 feet over Jamal Crawford and Anthony Morrow.
On the occasions when the teams would sprint downcourt (which would happen after the defense came up with a stop and a defensive board), Ellis often remained in the middle of the pack. But there were flashes of the player who was one of the two biggest reasons behind Golden State’s 48 wins last season. . .
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TagsAcie Law Al Harrington Allen Iverson Andris Biedrins Anthony Morrow Anthony Randolph Baron Davis Brandan Wright C.J. Watson Chris Cohan Chris Hunter Chris Mullin Corey Maggette Dan Dickau DeMarcus Nelson Devean George Don Nelson Gilbert Arenas Jamal Crawford Jason Richardson Jeff Fried Jermareo Davidson Keith Smart Kelenna Azubuike Kevin Durant Kevin Garnett Kobe Bryant Larry Riley Marco Belinelli Marcus Williams Matt Barnes Mickael Pietrus Mikki Moore Monta Ellis Patrick O'Bryant Richard Hendrix Robert Rowell Rob Kurz Ronny Turiaf Stephen Curry Stephen Jackson Stephon Marbury Steve Nash Troy Murphy Vladimir Radmanovic
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