Lakers come to town, Warriors look to exact revenge


Lakers come to town, Warriors look to exact revenge

UPDATE (Dec. 22, 3:10 p.m.) -- Steve Nash will make his return to the Los Angeles Lakers tonight at Oracle Arena against the Warriors, according to USA Today.


It’s the Lakers -- never mind the record, never mind the drama.

When the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Bay Area, the current shape of the team is irrelevant.

“They’re always a test,” Warriors forward David Lee said. “I don’t care if they’re 0-100, they’ve got the personnel to be very, very tough and we need to come out and give our best effort.”

The Lakers (12-14) enter the contest struggling this season, despite having won three straight, and sit 5.5 games back of the Warriors (18-9).

That doesn’t mean much headed into tonight’s game though, as the Lakers historically have the Warriors’ number and have swept the season series in three of the last four years.

The Warriors mantra -- “that’s not our history” -- doesn’t exactly apply. This season, on Nov. 9, Los Angeles delivered Golden State’s worst loss, 101-77 at the Staples Center.

Still, the way the Warriors have played of late, having won eight of their last 11 at home, tonight’s game should be telling of Golden State’s evolution.

“We expect to go out and win tomorrow night whether we are favored, or whether they have more talent, we just expect to go out there and win,” Lee said after Friday night’s win against the Bobcats. “And it’s not an arrogance, it’s just a confidence within our team because we trust one another.”

An All-Star pitch

The campaigning has begun already.

Warriors coach Mark Jackson is dropping more and more references of support for his two stars, Lee and Stephen Curry, to be included as All-Stars this season.

Jackson made the point in his postgame news conference Friday to say he’s not about chasing individual recognition, but he then went on to say that Curry and Lee deserve to be All-Stars for changing the culture of his basketball team.

“I would be doing them a disservice by not leading the parade acknowledging that they are very deserving of it,” Jackson said. “If it doesn’t happen, we are going to keep it moving and continue to win ball games, but while this mic is in front of me I’m going to let people know how special these guys have been.”

Lee, who recorded his third career triple-double against the Bobcats, is averaging 20 and 11.3 rebounds through 27 games this season.

“The only thing I worry about going into every game is getting rebounds because that’s one of the things that team needs me to do and for us to be successful,” Lee said after the win on Friday night. “I don’t worry one bit about scoring or post touches. They can not throw me the ball for five quarters; it doesn’t matter.

“I try to just go up and get every rebound on both ends of the floor and that gets me into the aggression of the game and the rest just takes care of itself.”

Curry has now hit 15 three-pointers in the team’s past two games -- the first Warriors player to ever hit at least seven in back-to-back games -- and is averaging 20.2 points, 6.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Parents weekend

A night after Curry hit eight three-pointers in front of his pops, Dell Curry, there will be another Warriors dad coming to Oracle. Klay Thompson’s father, Mychal Thompson, a former Laker and current team broadcaster, will be in attendance.

The Warriors second-year shooting guard looks forward to seeing his dad, facing off against the Lakers and the challenge of a matchup with Kobe Bryant.

“It’s fun, it’s real fun for me,” Thompson said about playing against the Lakers. “I look forward to those games because you can measure yourself against the best in the league. Those are the games to look forward to, especially since my Dad is calling it.”

For more Warriors news and analysis, follow @jimmypspencer on Twitter

NBA poised for season unlike it's ever seen

NBA poised for season unlike it's ever seen

The story lines are as long as a Stephen Curry 3-pointer.

With a superteam in the West, a megastar in the Midwest, superstars all around the league, its global popularity at an all-time high, more revenue than ever and labor peace looming, this season has the potential to be like no other the league has ever had. Yes, rivaling the Celtics' run in the 1960s, possibly topping Magic-Bird rivalry of the '80s and Michael Jordan's run of the '90s.

LeBron James is holding the title in Cleveland and Kevin Durant has settled in Golden State, so the NBA Finals could be headed for the same destination again next June.

But what a journey it should be getting there.

"I think there is a somewhat an inevitability of this Cleveland-Warriors meeting in the finals again, which can sometimes make you overlook how enjoyable the regular season can be if you love basketball," ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said. "So I think they'll meet in the finals again, but that doesn't make the regular season uninteresting to me."

A summer spending spree created new contenders and enticing questions for a global audience that will begin being answered Tuesday when the new season opens in the places the last one ended.

The record-setting Warriors will be must-see TV again with Durant, the former scoring champ and league MVP, sharing shots with Curry, the current scoring champ and MVP.

James is on a Jordan-like run, looking for a seventh straight trip to the NBA Finals and hoping to build a dynasty where there was once just despair.

There's Dwyane Wade in Chicago and Dwight Howard in Atlanta after both went home.

Derrick Rose left home, traded from the Bulls to the New York Knicks.

Former Commissioner David Stern used to say the NBA was in its golden age.

Under Adam Silver, it may be even shinier.

"There are a lot of charged-up players in this league," Silver said. "There are a lot of teams, young teams in the development cycle, where I think they would even say realistically they're unlikely to win the championship this season, but they're on the road to winning a championship."

He will give James and the Cavaliers their rings before the season opener, and Durant joins Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson in the expensive and explosive Warriors lineup later that night against San Antonio.

Their teams are heavily favored to meet in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year, a rivalry that could turn into something like the Celtics-Lakers, or before that of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.

But this is no two-team show.

[POOLE: NBA predictions: Cavs don't make Finals; Westbrook MVP]

"It's tough," Green said. "But at the same time I'm almost certain that it's a goal of (Cleveland's) to get back to try to win a championship. With that being said, there's a lot of great teams in this league. And they're not saying we're going to watch the Cavs and the Warriors in June."

Like Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City being defiant, not devastated by Durant's departure the way the Cavs were when James bolted for Miami in 2010.

Or young stars like Karl-Anthony Towns growing up into the spotlight, now that Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, titans for so long, have grown old and retired. And yet another batch of unmatched international talent, led by No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, an Australian whose debut will be delayed as he recovers from a foot injury.

It's what the league sought to create during the 2011 lockout, when more revenues were shifted from players to teams in hopes the clubs would then distribute them better and chip away at the gulf between the big-market haves and the little-market have-nots.

Money really started pouring in with the extension of the league's national TV contracts, which kicked in this season to the tune of about $2.6 billion annually. The TV deal has sent salaries soaring so much that owners and players are poised to agree to a new labor agreement soon without the type of fight that led to the last one.

The wealth of talent, and the wealth to acquire it, has emboldened teams to spend now where they once may have stood pat.

Durant, Al Horford and many more switched teams during the dizzying days of July free agency, with the Spurs putting Pau Gasol alongside Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge into the frontcourt spot that Duncan for so long had anchored.

A third of the league changed coaches, with clubs like Minnesota (Tom Thibodeau) and Houston (Mike D'Antoni) turning to proven winners to steer them through the rough Western Conference waters.

The Spurs or Clippers could emerge as the toughest test out there for the Warriors. Things look easier for James in the East, where he has emerged as the champion for six straight years. But he never thinks about what happened in the past.

"There are going to be so many more challenges, so many different obstacles that we're going to have to face this year as a ballclub," James said. "We have to be mentally focused, mentally prepared for it all. I think we will, be but it will not be easy and it shouldn't be."

Silver, who should definitely like what he sees, summed up the anticipation:

"I'm looking forward to the season."

In contract year, Iguodala hoping for new deal with Warriors

In contract year, Iguodala hoping for new deal with Warriors

OAKLAND – Andre Iguodala’s game defies convenient categorization. The box score generally doesn’t do it justice, yet box-score stats heavily influence value.

Which puts Iguodala, in the final year of his Warriors contract, in a bit of quandary. The 32-year-old small forward is a key member of the team and would like to receive another contract. How does he suppress the thought of a new deal while simultaneously hoping to get one?

“It’s human to have it in the back of your mind,” Iguodala told on Monday. “But I would never let that get in the way of us winning. That’s just the nature of my game anyway.

“Although I do try to sometimes, tell myself to be selfish when I’m out there, once I’m out there I’m always looking to make the right play. I may think, ‘Shoot, I should’ve shot it,’ but I end up passing it anyway because it’s the right play.”

Iguodala is a highly intelligent but largely intangible force who at his best plays lock-down defense, disrupts opposing offensive schemes, sets up teammates to score and occasionally pitches in with points of his own.

Coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers consistently express high regard for what Iguodala brings, but even they will have to decide whether the budget, beginning in 2017-18, will allow another contract for Iguodala.

It’s one thing for the Warriors to place immense value on Iguodala, the NBA Finals MVP during the team’s 2015 title run, but how would the rest of the league value a 33-year-old who spent three seasons as the team’s Sixth Man?

“They understand it here,” Iguodala said. “But the problem is you need another team, because if you don’t have another team, you can’t leverage. And it’s a business. I don’t care what you’ve done in the past.”

It’s conceivable that the Warriors, in drafting Patrick McCaw, believe they now have someone who eventually will give them much of what Iguodala provides. McCaw, 20, delights in guarding multiple positions while also playing a well-rounded offensive game.

Even Iguodala understands the comparison.

“It’s a little different,” Iguodala said. “As far as IQ, I definitely see it. He’s a very smart player. Very defensive-minded. Offensively, he’s underrated. He’s a great passer."

For now, the veteran is secure. He has a featured role on a team that is favored to win a championship. His contribution to the season will state is case to the Warriors.

“For me,” Iguodala said, “it’s just about playing with good intentions and hoping it works out."