OAKLAND -- Last offseason, the Warriors signed Dorell Wrightwith the idea being hed be a very good perimeter defender. Maybe not an elitedefender or a lock-down one, but a pretty darn good one. After all, that washis strength in Miami, where hed spent the first six years of hiscareer.But Wright was a worse defender for the Warriors in his oneseason than he ever was playing in Miami. And if coach Mark Jackson and theWarriors hope to make good on their promise to actually defend, then Wright isgoing to have to be at the forefront on that.And he sure wasnt last season.You know, I definitely slacked a little bit as far as mytechniques, Wright said of his defensive slippage. I was allowed to gamble alittle more. Thats why my steals were up. I was able to get into the passinglane.Were going to be a lot more disciplined. That was the teamwe had with me and Monta (Ellis) on the wings. We were able to read plays. Butsometimes that gets you hurt.Jacksons intention is to make the Warriors morefundamentally sound on defense, but that will require players to improve significantlyon their individual defense. Certainly in the effort department.Predictably, the Warriors have spent the majority of theirsix or so hours of practice working on that end of the floor.Defense has been the bulk of our teaching so far, Jacksonsaid. Today we put in a couple of our sets. The guys understood it, we wentthrough it. Mostly defensively because I believe defensively is where weregoing to make the biggest improvement, the biggest jump. And were going to bedisciplined on both sides of the ball. But I would say 90 percent (of our time)has been defense.The real issue, of course, isnt the amount of time Jacksonand the Warriors spend on defense, its whether he can get the entire team tobuy in.This team certainly has a history, Jackson said. You win36 games I think youre well aware its time to change things.
OAKLAND -- The Warriors close out a two-game homestand as heavy favorites Saturday night, when they play host to the reeling Brooklyn Nets at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors (48-9) for the first time this season will be without Kevin Durant, who is coping with a hand injury and will sit in what is the equivalent of a rest night against a team that has lost its last 15 games.
Because Warriors coach Steve Kerr is loathe to disrupt his usual bench rotations and the Nets are likely to start three guards, it’s conceivable that rookie wing Pat McCaw could get the start at small forward in place of Durant.
Though Brooklyn (9-48) is coming off a 129-109 loss Friday night in Denver, that game featured the return of point guard Jeremy Lin after a 26-game absence with a strained hamstring.
Warriors by 20.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Zaza Pachulia vs. Brook Lopez. Though he has gotten lost in the sheer sub-mediocrity of the Nets, Lopez remains one of the league’s most talented offensive centers. His 20.7 points per game ranks second among players listed at center. On a per-minute basis, Lopez is No. 1. Though Pachulia will lead the charge, expect JaVale McGee and David West to also spend time defending Lopez.
Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L hand contusion) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.
Nets: F Quincy Acy (L ankle sprain) is listed as out.
Warriors: 8-2. Nets: 0-10.
The Warriors prevailed in the first meeting this season, 117-101, on Dec. 22 at Brooklyn and have won the last three meetings. They have won 13 of the last 18 meetings and 10 of the last 11 played in Oakland.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
CURRY FROM DEEP: Stephen Curry is nine triples away from passing Lakers legend Kobe Bryant (1,827) and moving into 11th place on the all-time list of 3-pointers made. The last time the Nets came to Oakland (Nov. 14, 2015), Curry made five 3-pointers to surpass his father, Dell, on the all-time list. Curry also enjoys facing Lin.
THE ROTATIONS: Durant’s absence is bound to affects the minutes of everyone from Andre Iguodala to Kevon Looney to James Michael McAdoo to McCaw. Though no one can effectively replicate Durant’s game, it will be interesting to see how Kerr distributes playing time.
TRIPLE OVERDRIVE: The Warriors take a lot of 3-pointers, ranking fifth in the NBA. The Nets take even more triples, ranking fourth. Moreover, the teams rank 1-2 in pace, with Brooklyn at the top and the Warrior right behind. The upshot: a pace race between teams that love to launch.
OAKLAND -- Scratch Kevin Durant from the all-82 list, as the forward will miss his first game of the season Saturday night, when the Warriors play host to Brooklyn.
A left hand contusion, sustained in Thursday’s win over the Clippers, will keep Durant on the sideline, mostly for precautionary reasons. He likely will return to the lineup Monday night in Philadelphia, where the Warriors face the 76ers.
Durant injured his pinky finger after falling hard in the opening minutes against LA. He remained in the game for another nine minutes, leaving with 1:33 left in the quarter and retreating to the locker room with a member of the training staff.
X-rays were negative, and Durant returned to the game. He played 34 minutes, piling up 25 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, one block and a steal.
With Durant’s absence, every member of the Warriors has missed at least one game this season.