Lakers-Warriors: What to watch for

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Lakers-Warriors: What to watch for

The Los Angeles Lakers come to Oracle Arena on Tuesdaynight, and theyll be accompanied by some drama. In the Lakers 102-96 loss tothe Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, coach Mike Brown had Kobe Bryant on the benchfrom the 5:45 mark of the fourth quarter until the 1:51 mark.Bryant acknowledged after the game that he was upset aboutthe late benching but stopped short of criticizing the decision.The Lakers have been inconsistent much of the season.Theyre dealing with Brown, in his first season with the Lakers, the falloutfrom the Lamar Odom trade and, most recently, acquiring Ramon Sessions andtrading Derek Fisher in separate deals.Here are some things to watch for during WednesdaysLakers-Warriors game:Defending the interior: Its no secretthat with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, the Lakers have one of the biggest andmost talented frontcourts in the league.Its also no secret that without Andrew Bogut, the Warriorsare severely undermanned on the interior.In the Warriors last game against the Portland TrailBlazers, point guard Raymond Felton had a season-high 27 points, doing much ofhis damage from the perimeter. One of the reasons the Warriors yielded a biggame to Felton was because they had to double-team power forward LaMarcusAldridge for a chunk of the game, allowing Felton open looks.Since trading Ekpe Udoh as part of the MontaEllis-to-Milwaukee trade, the Warriors no longer have an interior defender whodoesnt need help with a double-team. That puts the Warriors at a disadvantagedefensively.Lees offense: Without Ellis, theWarriors need all the points they can manage, and power forward David Lee isone guy they need points from. But Lee sometimes struggles against frontlineswith length, and that would certainly describe the Lakers.If the Warriors hope to hang in on Tuesday, Lee is going tohave to find a way to score. The one place Lee would seem to have an advantagewhen being defended by Gasol, say, would be to take Gasol out onto theperimeter. Lee often has an advantage against bigger defenders because hes oneof the better perimeter shooters at the four position.Make 3-pointers: The 3-point shot hasbecome the most important part of the Warriors offense, and theyre going toneed to make their share of 3-pointers against L.A.Whether its Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush, Dorell Wright oreven Nate Robinson, the Warriors have to have a good shooting night from beyondthe arc.If not, they could be in for a long night.

Kerr clarifies Cousins' lack of NBA All-Star Game minutes

Kerr clarifies Cousins' lack of NBA All-Star Game minutes

OAKLAND -- Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday that the limited minutes allotted to former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins in the All-Star Game Sunday was unrelated to a pending trade.

Cousins played only two minutes -- the shortest stint by any All-Star since Connie Hawkins in 1971 -- because that was the big man’s wish.

“I asked every guy before the game started how much they wanted to play,” said Kerr, who coached the Western Conference All-Stars for the second time in three seasons. “He told me he wanted to play two minutes. He was serious. He said he was banged up. It had nothing to do with (a trade).”

After six-plus seasons in Sacramento, Cousins was traded to New Orleans shortly after the All-Star Game, with the official announcement coming Monday.

Kerr initially thought Cousins was requesting to be limited to two minutes per half. When Kerr and assistant coach Mike Brown conveyed that plan, Cousins was quick to clarify.

“He said, ‘No, no: two minutes total,’” Kerr recalled.

When Kerr pointed out that Cousins actually played two minutes, 24 seconds, the newest Pelican flashed a sense of humor.

“I went over? By 24 seconds?” Cousins said. “That should be a fine for you, coach.”

Warriors big men Pachulia, West close to return

Warriors big men Pachulia, West close to return

OAKLAND -- The Warriors reconvened Wednesday and received good news, going through a light scrimmage that for the first time in weeks included centers Zaza Pachulia and David West.

The better news for the Warriors is that both were upgraded to questionable and could return as soon as Thursday night, when they face the Clippers at Oracle Arena.

“I would say there’s a good chance both of them would play tomorrow,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’ll see.”

Pachulia has missed the last eight games after straining his right rotator cuff on Jan. 29 at Portland.

“The pain is gone,” Pachulia told CSNBayArea.com. “I can’t say I’ll be cleared, but there is no more pain.”

Pachulia is expected to reclaim his starting role despite Kerr’s acknowledging that JaVale McGee has been “fantastic” while starting the last eight games.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Kerr said. “I’ve got to make that decision. I want to make sure first that (Pachulia) is healthy. And it depends, too, on what happens with David. Is David healthy? Are they both playing? There’s kind of a domino effect on all of this stuff.

“I would anticipate that, ultimately, Zaza will be back starting. I liked that whole rotation. JaVale has helped us dramatically, and he’ll be playing a role. It’s a center-by-committee situation. But right away, we’ll see how we play it.”

West has missed the last 14 games with a non-displaced fracture in his left thumb, sustained Jan. 18 against Oklahoma City.

West was to undergo an X-ray late Wednesday, after which it was anticipated he would receive a clean slate.

The only players that did not scrimmage are All-Stars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. All four were given an extra day off in the wake of their participation in All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.

“Just being in New Orleans for those four days, there’s no rest whatsoever,” Kerr said. “Those are the guys who played the most minutes. The All-Star break is such a great time to recharge.”