The Warriors are banged up and winding down anothernon-playoff season. The L.A. Clippers are not only a lock to make the NBApostseason for just the second time in 15 years, theyre thinking abouthome-court advantage in Round 1.A win against the Warriors would further that cause. TheClippers begin play on Saturday in fourth place in the Western Conference,one-and-a-half games ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers seem to be peaking as the postseasonapproaches. Theyve won 10 of their past 12 games overall and eight of theirpast nine at home. Here are some things to watch for during Saturdays gamebetween the Warriors and Clippers at Staples Center:Scrappiness early: The Clippers areplayoff-bound, surging and getting healthier. They have things at stake andtheir talent level dwarfs the Warriors heading into this one.It seems the only way for the Warriors to stay competitiveis to stay competitive in the first six minutes. And without Stephen Curry,David Lee, Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson that seems like a tallorder.Lets see if the Warriors can hang in early.Tylers game: Rookie center Jeremy Tyleris in a very tough spot on Saturday. Hes a young and inconsistent player andnow finds himself without Lee, his more superior frontcourt mate.Not to mention, the Clippers throw one of the most athleticfront lines in the NBA at you with DeAndre Jordan at center and Blake Griffinat power forward. And after them its Reggie Evans, the bruiser.Warriors coach Mark Jackson could keep Tyler as the startingcenter and make Dominic McGuire the starting power forward. Or Jackson couldplay Tyler at power forward in place of the starter, Lee and use himalongside Mickell Gladness or Andris Biedrins.Regardless, Tyler is going to face some real challengesagainst the Clippers.X-factor: Small forward Caron Butler getsplenty of offensive opportunities playing with Paul and Griffin. Hes still asolid player, and when hes playing well, the Clippers are more difficult tobeat.If Dorell Wright can find a way to outplay Butler, it wouldbe one small step in the direction of winning.
OAKLAND -- It was with impeccable timing, for the Warriors and for Andre Iguodala, that he has spent recent weeks summoning all the best parts of his game.
He has been a disruptive force on defense, as usual, but at a time when the Warriors needed something extra at both ends of the court, he is providing an abundance of offensive electricity.
Iguodala came through once more on Sunday as the Warriors suffocated Memphis in the fourth quarter to take a 106-94 win at Oracle Arena. Though the team’s Sixth Man again scored at an efficient clip -- 20 points on eight shot attempts -- his ability to energize teammates from Stephen Curry to Draymond Green to Klay Thompson and beyond is no less significant.
“We feed off his energy when we see him get a rebound or get a steal, push up the court, make a crazy inside-out dribble and finish at the rim, knock down threes or play-make for other guys,” Curry said. “It’s fun to watch.”
Iguodala’s rise has coincided with the loss of Kevin Durant, the team’s leading scorer and someone who plays the same position. With Durant out, Iguodala has taken on additional playing time, which can be risky for someone in his 13th season.
“He’s been fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He looks incredibly athletic, bouncy and fresh. He’s a pro. The guy just knows how to take care of his body. He’s done a great job of stepping up in KD’s absence and recognizing what we need from him.”
The Warriors have played 13 games since Durant went down with a knee injury, and Iguodala has played in 11 of them, shooting 44 percent from deep and 61.8 percent overall. The man who shot 62.3 percent from the line in his first three seasons as a Warrior is at 70.1 percent this season. Leadership also is part of the package.
“I try to read (what’s needed) when I get into the game,” Iguodala said. “Try to bring that energy. And, more than anything, lead by example. Not say too much. Just show it.”
When Iguodala is sprinting up and down the court, rising and dunking on one end, stripping balls away on the other, the Warriors are appreciably better team. If the Curry-Durant-Green-Thompson foursome is the engine, Iguodala is the turbo boost.
“We’re a completely different team when he’s as aggressive as he’s been of late,” Green said. “When he’s moving the way he’s been moving -- he’s beating everybody down the floor -- it makes us a completely different team. “
Igoudala’s minutes have spiked, from 23 per game in November, to 26 in December, to 27 in January and February, to almost 29 in March.
“I don’t want to run his minutes up too much,” Kerr said. “But if he has to play a couple extra minutes while KD is out, then that’s fine.”
It’s fine with Iguodala and it’s paying off for the Warriors.
Iguodala hopes it pays off, literally, when he becomes a free agent in July.
Though free agents entering their 14th season don’t often command big money, he is making a very impressive audition for the Warriors or any team that might be interested in his services.
Iguodala has made it clear he’d prefer to stay in the Bay Area, and at this rate the Warriors may have to find the necessary coins to bring him back.
OAKLAND -- There was plenty of tension and more than a few pulse-stopping moments, but the Warriors found a way to win their seventh consecutive game.
The Warriors’ 106-94 victory Sunday over the admirably recalcitrant Memphis Grizzlies was a work in persistence and overcome moments in which the worst of their work was on full display before a sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.
Klay Thompson scored 31 points to lead the offense. Stephen Curry had 21 points and a game-high 11 assists, Andre Iguodala had 20 and Matt Barnes finished with 10 as the Warriors evened the season series with the Grizzlies at 2-2.
The Warriors (59-14) fought off numerous Memphis rallies but turned up the defense in the fourth quarter, holding the Grizzlies to 13 points on 5-of-25 (20 percent) shooting over the final 12 minutes.
The Warriors offset 18 turnovers, giving the Grizzlies 16 point, by shooting 54.2 percent from the field.
Mike Conley scored 29 points to lead Memphis, which fell to 40-33.
As good as the Splash Brothers were, and they were superb, it was Iguodala’s play at both ends that made a major difference.
Iguodala’s line: 20 points (7-of-8 shooting from the field, 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, 4-of-5 from the line), a team-high-tying seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot. He played 32 minutes and was plus-9 for the game.
After the Grizzlies pulled into an 81-81 tie with 25.2 left in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 15-5 run to go up 96-86 on a 3-pointer by Curry with 4:57 remaining.
Memphis got no closer than nine in the final minutes.
Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain and bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.
Grizzlies: C Marc Gasol (L foot strain) was listed as questionable and declared out prior to tipoff. F Chandler Parsons (L knee rehab) was listed as out. C Deyonta Davis and F Jarell Martin are on assignment with Iowa of the D-League.
The Warriors travel Monday to Houston, where on Tuesday night they face the Rockets at Toyota Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.