Jackson begins bid for Warriors' All-Stars

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Jackson begins bid for Warriors' All-Stars

Warriors head coach Mark Jackson did not avoid the topic Friday night. He has two All-Stars that belong in Houston Feb. 17.

"I've got two guys that should be in the All-Star Game," Jackson said after Friday's 115-100 win over the Bobcats, beginning the pitch to get a Golden State player in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.

David Lee and Stephen Curry have led the Warriors to their best start since the 1991-92 season, when Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin led the Warriors to a 21-8 record. This year, Lee, Curry and the Warriors are out to a 18-9 record, boasting a far more competitive brand of basketball than in previous seasons.

So why is the notion of an All-Star Warrior met with skepticism?

The Warriors have not had a player participate in an NBA All-Star Game since 1997 when Latrell Sprewell averaged 24.2 points, 6.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. It is the longest active drought by an NBA team.

This season, the Warriors have their best shot at landing someone on the Western Conference All-Star team since Monta Ellis made several All-Star pushes from 2009-2011.

Lee is averaging 20 points and 11.3 rebounds a game, good for fifth in the NBA in rebounds and tenth in the league in scoring. His early-season success culminated in a triple-double Friday against the Bobcats. It was also Lee's 11th straight game with more than 20 points, and his 11th game of the season in which he has recorded at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. No player has done that more this season than Lee.

Curry, coming off his share of past ankle injuries, is fully healthy and averaging 20.2 points, 6.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. Through 27 games, Curry is ninth in the league in scoring.

Curry and Lee would be locks for the All-Star Game if they played in the Eastern Conference, where they would be fourth and fifth in scoring, respectively.

Lee and Curry are undoubtedly putting up All-Star-worthy numbers for a team that currently occupies the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoff picture, but All-Star voting can be fickle by nature.

The case for the Warriors' All-Star hopefuls is augmented by the team's winning ways, something Golden State's All-Star candidates since Sprewell have not had in their favor in past campaigns.

What do you think? Should David Lee and Stephen Curry be All-Stars this year?

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

OAKLAND -- Though Kevin Durant is eager to get back to the court, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his assistants are in preliminary stages of planning his return.

One thing is certain: There will be restriction on the number of minutes Durant is plays in the first few games after he receives medical clearance.

“It’s something we’ll consult the training staff on,” Kerr said Saturday after practice. “I imagine we’ll ease him back by playing him shorter minutes to start, so he can build up his rhythm and his conditioning.”

Durant has been out since Feb. 28, when he sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) and bone bruise to his left knee. After several days of strict immobilization, he has over the past week progressed to the point where he is engaging in vigorous workouts and shooting sessions.

Yet Durant will not be re-evaluated until next Thursday, which means he likely will not be cleared before the week of April 3. Not until then will the coaching staff devise a plan to reintegrate Durant.

“That obviously has a domino effect on the entire rotation,” Kerr said. “When we get to that point, we’ll figure that out. But it’s not something I’m giving a lot of thought to right now because he’s still at least a couple weeks away.”

The Warriors lost five of seven in the immediate aftermath of Durant’s injury but have recovered to win the last six in a row.

 

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any baseball manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.