YSTL: Poole: Curry is the engine that drives the Warriors
Stephen Curry registered just five points and seven assists when the Warriors defeated Minnesota back on Nov. 6. (AP)
Programming note: Timberwolves-Warriors coverage begins Friday at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territorial restrictions apply)
OAKLAND – Even though Warriors big men Andrew Bogut and David Lee are listed as questionable, assume it will be hard to keep them away from the Oracle Arena court for Friday night's game against the Timberwolves.
The Warriors (26-17) most certainly will need them.
Minnesota (20-21) has one of the most physical big-man combos in the NBA, 6-foot-9, 243-pound Kevin Love at power forward and 6-11, 285-pound Nikola Pekovic at center. Love, deservedly voted in as a starter in the upcoming All-Star game, is fourth in the league in scoring (25.0 per game) and second in rebounding (13.0). Pekovic is averaging 21.7 points and 10 rebounds over the last 16 games.
"Those guys can score, they can rebound, they're a handful," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "So we need to be healthy and whole.
"But like always, if not it's next man up and we've got to find a way to get it done."
That has not been a problem of late, as the Warriors (26-17) have won the last seven, including 106-93 on Nov. 6 at Target Center. Klay Thompson drove the offense, with 26 points in the second half, 19 in the fourth quarter.
[PHOTO GALLERY: Poole's Western Conference midseason team awards]
While Lee had a strong game against Love, finishing with 22 points and 15 rebounds, Bogut fouled out in 16 minutes against Pekovic. Backup Jermaine O'Neal was available off the bench, which won't be case Friday as he continues to recover from surgery on his right wrist.
Bogut and Lee were hurt on Monday night's loss to Indiana. Bogut sustained a right knee strain and Lee incurred a sprain of his left shoulder when it caught the business end of an elbow from 7-foot-2, 290-pound Pacers center Roy Hibbard.
"There's no fracture," Lee said in a Thursday interview with 95.7 The Game, "but for the next couple weeks it's going to be really sore. I'll most likely have to do some extra preparations for (Friday's) game, but I don't plan on sitting out."
Both Lee and Bogut practiced on a limited basis Thursday but were full participants in the Friday morning shootaround. With the Warriors losing three of their last four games and two goliaths coming to town, it'll be hard to keep them out.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Lee vs. Love: It's two skilled offensive players who enjoy playing each other, perhaps because both provide classic power forward production without classic power forward styles. They use finesse as often as power.
Bogut vs. Pekovic: A battle of two massive centers, equal parts man and mastodon. Bogut has the higher skill level, but Pekovic is relentless and maybe 25 pounds heavier. One thing is certain: the Warriors are in trouble if Bogut fouls out in 16 minutes, in more trouble if he can't go at all.
Stephen Curry vs. Ricky Rubio: This is pure eye candy, two point guards who use different approaches to mesmerize. Curry is a great shooter whose creative passing sometimes results in turnovers. Rubio is a poor shooter whose spectacular passes usually lead to easy baskets.
The Warriors have won the last seven games, 13 of the last 15 and have held the Wolves to fewer than 100 points in nine consecutive meetings.
Warriors 6-4, Timberwolves 5-5.
For the Warriors, Bogut and Lee are questionable. C Jermaine O'Neal (right wrist surgery) participated in the morning shootaround but will not play. C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) and G Nemanja Nedovic (strained left hamstring) are out indefinitely.
For the Timberwolves, G Kevin Martin (lacerated finger) and G/F Alexey Shved (nose) are listed as questionable.