Steinmetz: Trouble brewing on Warriors' road trip

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Steinmetz: Trouble brewing on Warriors' road trip

Dec. 28, 2010STEINMETZ ARCHIVEWARRIORS PAGE WARRIORS VIDEOMatt SteinmetzCSNBayArea.com

The Warriors have won three in a row and are playing better. There are whispers of turning a corner and theyre approaching full health for the first time this season.Theres some upbeat-ness around the team, no doubt.But the road awaits, and we all know what that means: Trouble brewing. The Warriors are 4-12 away from Oracle this season, with the wins coming against Sacramento, Minnesota, New York and Toronto.This ones is going to be tougher than most. Lets take a look Wednesday, at Atlanta: The Hawks have been just so-so since their 6-0 start, but theyre still awfully good at home, and are currently working on an eight-game winning streak at Philips Arena. Atlanta has the kind of big and talented frontline (Al Horford, Josh Smith) that often gives the Warriors problems.Friday, at Charlotte: On the surface, this is the most winnable game on the trip, but keep in mind the Stephen Silas factor. Silas, who had been an assistant for five seasons with the Warriors, recently joined his father, Paul, on the bench in Charlotte. If anyone knows the Warriors, Silas Jr. does. Who knows? Silas Jr. might have some Monta-Stopper in him.Saturday, at Miami: The Heat has won 14 of its past 15 games, and are the best defensive team in the NBA when it comes to points against. On Dec. 10, Miami shut down the Warriors at Oracle in the second half of a 20-plus point win, holding them to just 39 points. It doesnt look like Miami is messing around anymore.Monday, at Orlando: The Magic is coming off consecutive 59-win seasons, and still that wasnt good enough for GM Otis Smith. He rolled the dice by trading for Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu. The Magic is a very good team, has a sense of urgency, and the Warriors are on a back-to-back. Not good at all.Wednesday, Jan. 5, at New Orleans: After an 11-1 start, the Hornets are 18-13 at this point. New Orleans is no lock to make the playoffs, but its nice start has put them in a nice position. Any game on Chris Pauls home floor is going to be a difficult one for the Warriors.

NBA Gameday: Warriors must summon intensity for early start vs Magic

NBA Gameday: Warriors must summon intensity for early start vs Magic

Having destroyed three highly regarded opponents in their toughest week of the season, the Warriors on Sunday face an altogether different kind of challenge.

This time, it’s simply waking up.

The Warriors will pursue their seventh consecutive win, facing the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 a.m Pacific., the earliest game of the season for the Warriors.

The last time the Warriors (37-6) played such an early game in the Eastern Time Zone was March 26, 1995, also in Orlando.

The Magic (18-27) will want to be on alert for Warriors star Stephen Curry, who torched Orlando for 51 points last Feb. 25, his last visit to Amway Center.

BETTING LINE:
Warriors by 12.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Kevin Durant vs. Aaron Gordon: It’s the most efficient high-producer on offense (Durant) vs. one of the top five athletes in the league (Gordon). Durant is taking apart all defenders, and Gordon isn’t known for his D. No, the South Bay native is most known for his ability to fly. Durant’s task will be to minimize lob attempts while keeping him off the offensive glass for easy put backs.

INJURY REPORT:
Warriors: F/C David West (L thumb fracture) is listed as out. G Shaun Livingston (rest) is listed as out.

Magic: G Evan Fournier (R foot soreness) is listed as questionable. G Jodie Meeks (R thumb sprain) and G C. J. Wilcox (L Achilles tendinitis) are listed as out.

LAST 10:
Warriors: 9-1. Magic: 3-7.

SERIES HISTORY:
The Warriors have swept the Magic in each of the past three seasons, compiling a six-game win streak during which they’ve won by an average of 10.8 points per game.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
EARLY FOCUS: After such astonishing success in a grueling week, with three emotional games, the Warriors may be susceptible to a letdown against inferior competition. Will they be able to summon the intensity from the start?

THE BIG MEN: Zaza Pachulia will have his hands full with Nikola Vucevic, the USC product who is one of the league’s more skilled scorers in the paint. Vucevic is not much of a defender, though, so Pachulia may find a few opportunities via the back cut or the pick-and-roll.

INSIDE D: If ever there were an offensive team begging to be defended by a zone, it is the Magic, who are 25th in field-goal percentage and, even worse, 28th in 3-point shooting percentage. The Warriors should be in good shape if they limit penetration.

Ex-Warrior rips Thunder for not defending Westbrook after Pachulia incident

Ex-Warrior rips Thunder for not defending Westbrook after Pachulia incident

Late in the first half of Wednesday night's game against the Thunder, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia made hard contact with Russell Westbrook, sending the Oklahoma City star sprawling to the ground.

The referees reviewed the play and gave Pachulia a flagrant foul.

Replays show Pachulia appearing to stand over Westbrook and none of his Thunder teammates coming to his defense.

Raja Bell, a 12-year NBA veteran who was briefly a Warrior during the 2009-10 season, was not happy with the reaction of the Thunder players.

"You are supposed to come flying across the court. You don't have to punch him, because that's a lot of money. But he should catch a forearm across his shoulder, a shove in the back, you ain't gonna knock down Russell Westbrook, the everything to the team I'm playing on, who feeds me, who makes me better, you ain't gonna do that and just stand over him and ice grill him. Not a chance," Bell said on Thursday during the NBA Crossover show on CBS Sports.

The incident started a war of words between Westbrook a Pachulia following the game.

"I don't know. He hit me kind of hard. But it's alright. I'm going to get his ass back. Straight up," Westbrook said when asked about what happened on the play.

He was then asked if he noticed Pachulia standing over him.

"I didn't see that until just now, but I don't play that game. I'm going to get his ass back. Whenever that is, I don't know, but I don't play that game," Westbrook said.

Pachulia responded to Westbrook's comments moments later.

"I can't worry about that kind of comment. I'm part of an amazing team and we have a great goal of winning a championship. I'm all in with my energy, 100 percent. So we're thinking about this team, staying healthy, moving forward, getting better, getting to the playoffs and playing for the championship. That's what I'm thinking about. I'm not thinking about those kind of comments.

"That team is not there, so they may be thinking about other stuff like getting me back. Okay, you can get me back. But again, it's my 14th year, we all know what my game is, to play hard, not dirty. If it was a hard foul, it was a hard foul. It wasn't dirty at all. I'm not worried about this," Pachulia told the media.