Warriors might have to be defensive team

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Warriors might have to be defensive team

Nice win for the Warriors 92-78 over the Knicks at Oracle.Makes the Warriors 2-1, with a home game against Philly on Saturday. Then theygo out on road for first time this season with games at Phoenix, San Antonioand the L.A. Lakers.Lets talk a little about the game If you dont think the Warriors are really a defensive team,take a look at their roster. Youcould make the case they have more defensive players than offensive players.Or, put another way, more players capable of being better defenders thanoffensive players.In fact, the only players on the Warriors who could reallybe considered offensive players are their three core players and first-rounddraft pick: Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, David Lee and Klay Thompson.All the other significant contributors on the roster havemore of a defensive bent: Dorell Wright, Andris Biedrins, Kwame Brown, EkpeUdoh, Brandon Rush, Dominic McGuire and Ish Smith.Bottom line might be that this team couldnt beoffensive-minded anymore even if it wanted to...If this is the way its going to be, and Warriors coach MarkJackson is going to go with guys who are willing to play hard-nosed defense,then that doesnt bode well for rookie Thompson.Look, Thompson may very well be a nice player down the road,but right now hes not nearly at the defensive level of players such as Rush,Wright and McGuire.Thompson played seven-and-a-half minutes against the Knicks,and I wouldnt be surprised if Jackson makes sure to go to Thompson at leastonce a game but doesnt tolerate more than a mistake or two before he goes toone of the three guys mentioned above.And really, thats the way it should be.Ish Smith gave the Warriors better minutes at point guardagainst NY than any of the teams backup point guards gave them last year.Smith is not perfect, and thats why hes not a starter. But, still, theres alot to like. He can make some plays and you better account for his quickness ifyoure on the other team.Honestly, I didnt think Wright was the kind of player whocould help you if he had just eight points on 3-for-9 shooting in 42 minutes. Figuredhed need to be knocking down about six or seven 3s to be playing that manyminutes.But thats what he did against the Knicks, chipping in alongwith others to hold down Carmelo Anthony, getting eight rebounds and notturning the ball over.A few days ago, I thought Wright seemed a little lost. Hehadnt really had an impact in any of the four previous games (including twopreseason) and you could see down the road his minutes getting eaten at. Butagain, as long as Jackson is demanding defense and Wright is willing to playit Wright is going to get minutes.

Stojakovic won't be surprised if Curry, Klay finish 'one and two' in career 3s

Stojakovic won't be surprised if Curry, Klay finish 'one and two' in career 3s

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA game is changing. League records are in jeopardy all over the place, but it’s hard to imagine a bigger statistical shift than that of the 3-point shot. Instituted to start the 1979-80 season, the 3-pointer isn’t just a gimmick, as first thought. It’s the lifeblood of a league that is growing at an incredible pace.

The ability to make the long distance shot used to be a rarity, now it is a prerequisite to enter the league. Even centers like DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol are letting it fly as the game shifts to the perimeter.

The leaderboard is being rewritten and it’s will likely continue to change as more and more players are lining up from behind the arc.

Sacramento Kings executive Peja Stojakovic knows this fact all too well. Out of the league just six years, the Serbian-born sharpshooter has seen his place in the standings diminished almost every season.

“Every decade, every 10-15 years, there is some new, great player that comes in that take the game to a different place we haven’t seen before,” Stojakovic told CSN California earlier this week. “That’s what’s so special about this game.”

When he retired following the 2010-11 season, Stojakovic ranked fourth all-time in made 3-point shots with 1760, trailing only Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Jason Kidd.

Since leaving the game, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, Jamal Crawford, Kyle Korver, Joe Johnson, Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant and Rashard Lewis have all passed him, leaving Stojakovic in 13th place on the list, but only for another game or two.

Golden State Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry is hot on Stojakovic’ tail, trailing the 3-time All-Star by just 11 makes coming into Wednesday night’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Be it Wednesday or sometime late in the week, Curry will almost assuredly surpass the former Kings star.

“Records are meant to be broken,” Stojakovic said. “Steph is definitely a guy, that if he continues to shoot - him and Klay (Thompson), if they continue to stay on the same pace, they can climb all the way to one and two.”

Curry, 28, has led the league four straight seasons in makes, setting new standards multiple times. His 402 triples last season is an NBA record and he holds three of the top four spots all-time for 3-balls in a single season.

Thompson is right behind Curry in most seasons. His 276 makes during 2015-16 is the third most in a single season and he is on pace to hit over 250 shots from deep this year. Through five-plus seasons in the league, Thompson has hit 1182 3-pointers and at age 26, he has plenty more left in him.  

“Our league in general has shifted,” Stojakovic said. “It’s more of a guard’s league and the pace is different. A lot of teams are shooting a lot of threes and Golden State - it suits them pretty well with the personnel they have.”

Both Curry and Thompson are a long way from tracking down Allen’s top spot of 2973, although Curry can get there quickly if he continues to drop in 400-plus bombs a season.

Injuries could play a role in where each of these players end up career-wise, but they are well on their way to shattering the record books.

“They are young enough and the way the league is going, I think if they stay healthy, they can really climb up there all the way to the top,” Stojakovic said.

NBA Gameday: Round 2 of Durant vs Westbrook

NBA Gameday: Round 2 of Durant vs Westbrook

Programming note: Warriors-Thunder coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

OAKLAND -- The Warriors close out their midseason 24-day Northern California residency Wednesday night with yet another game accompanied by drama.

Two days after thumping LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers completely out of Oracle Arena, the Warriors will face MVP candidate Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder -- AKA Kevin Durant’s former team.

The Warriors (35-6) may have to do it without shooting guard Klay Thompson, who went to Portland to visit a gravely ill family member but hopes to return in time for the game.

The Warriors are playing their ninth game out of 10 at home; the other one was up the road in Sacramento. They’re 8-1 since returning from Cleveland on Dec. 26.

Oklahoma City (25-18) is on the fourth leg of a seven-city road trip that spans 13 days, though the Thunder will return home for three days of workouts before going to Utah next Monday.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 13.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Westbrook: Though the point guards won’t often be in direct matchup -- Thompson, if available, will spend the majority of time defending Westbrook -- each is crucial to his team’s performance. Regardless of who gets the primary assignment on Westbrook, the Warriors will have to rely on team defense and make him a volume shooter. If Curry outplays Westbrook, OKC has no chance.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: No injuries listed; G Klay Thompson (family issue) listed as questionable.

Thunder: C Steven Adams (concussion) is listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Thunder: 5-5.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won the first meeting this season, 122-96, on Nov. 3 at Oracle and have won seven of the last eight meetings. The teams met last postseason in the Western Conference Finals, which the Warriors won in seven games.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

KD: Durant has made it clear that facing his former team is different than any other opponent. There is evidence behind this. Playing with visible intensity, he torched OKC for a season-high 39 points in the Nov. 3 game in Oakland. Don’t be surprised if he delivers another impressive performance.

THE PAINT: With Adams out, the Thunder’s interior defense is appreciably weaker. OKC could start backup big man Enes Kanter, who is vulnerable, but more likely will go with a smaller lineup, with Jerami Grant at center. In either case, expect the Warriors to attack at every opportunity.

OKC O: The Thunder offense is weakest in two specific areas: turnovers and 3-point shooting. Westbrook’s ball domination contributes to both. He averages 5.4 giveaways a game and the Thunder, as a team, ranks 29th in 3-point shooting percentage (32.6). The Warriors lead the league in steals and in 3-point defense.