Jackson confident Warriors will finish season strong

Jackson confident Warriors will finish season strong
March 11, 2013, 3:15 pm
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Twelve of the Warriors' 18 remaining games are at home. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Programming note: Warriors-Knicks coverage kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area

Warriors forward David Lee went through shootaround Monday morning as is expected to play Monday night against New York.

Lee suffered a bone bruise in his knee Friday in the Warriors’ 94-88 loss to Houston and missed the team’s game the following night against Milwaukee. He revealed he underwent an MRI on Sunday that showed no structural damage.

“Now it’s a matter of dealing with discomfort and that I’m good at,” Lee said.

[REWIND: Lee says he'll be ready to go Monday against Knicks]

With Lee suspended for the Warriors’ first game against New York due to his role in the fight against Indiana the previous night, Tyson Chandler pulled down a career-high 28 rebounds, including ten on the offensive end in a 109-105 Knicks win.

Having Lee -- along with center Andrew Bogut -- back in the lineup certainly makes the Warriors a more formidable team on the glass. Lee ranks No. 7 in the NBA in rebounds per game (11.1.), just behind Chandler (11.2).

“Tyson is an unbelievable rebounder,” Lee said. “He’s the top offensive rebounder in the league right now so by no means are we going to keep him off the boards completely, but maybe we’ll hold him from 28 to 26 or something.”

Watching the first game from the sideline at Madison Square Garden when teammate Stephen Curry went for 54 points was a difficult experience for the former Knick.

“One of the toughest things in my professional career,” Lee said. “Just kind of the manner in which it happened. To be honest with you, playing against the Knicks to me is not ... really no one who was on the team before is still on the team and playing tonight. So it’s not a huge thing, but playing in the Garden was.”

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who missed the last three games with a knee injury, is also expected to play. The league’s second-leading scorer (28.2 ppg) went for a quiet 35 points in the teams’ previous meeting.

New York (38-22), which sits in the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference standings, has won six of its last eight following a four-game losing streak in mid-February. However, the Knicks will be without forward Amar’e Stoudemire, who will miss about six weeks with a knee injury that will require surgery this week. He logged 20 minutes and scored 14 points against Golden State on Feb. 27.

Despite having lost 12 of the last 17 games, Warriors coach Mark Jackson has a message for concerned Golden State fans: “Relax.”

The Warriors (35-29) sit seven games behind Denver in the No. 6 spot in the Western Conference standings, a game ahead of No. 7 Houston (34-30) and two in front of the Lakers (33-31) for the final playoff spot.

Jackson said he hasn’t met anyone that would have predicted the Warriors would be in the position they’re currently in before the season started.

“Everyone I’ve been in contact with said they would take it,” he said.

But after starting the season 30-17, both external and internal expectations changed -- evidenced by an extremely somber locker room following the 103-93 loss to Milwaukee at Oracle Arena on Saturday.

“We don’t like losing. We’re not going to accept losing,” Jackson said. “I like that environment when you go into a locker room. I’ve been in locker rooms as a player, an analyst and as a coach where losses didn’t sting. This is a different group and that’s why I’m very optimistic about how we're going to finish things up.”

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