NBA Gameday: Warriors host Magic looking to extend conference lead

NBA Gameday: Warriors host Magic looking to extend conference lead

OAKLAND -- Seeking further proof that they climbing out of their slump, the Warriors will try to win their second straight game when they face Orlando Thursday night Oracle Arena.

With a victory over the Magic, or a Clippers loss at Denver, the Warriors would clinch their third consecutive Pacific Division championship.

The Warriors (53-14) are coming off a too-close-for-comfort 106-104 win over the 76ers on Tuesday that snapped their first three-game losing streak under coach Steve Kerr. They overcame a 16-point deficit in the final 14 minutes.

Orlando (24-44) has struggled all season under coach Frank Vogel, in his first year with the teams. The Magic is 9-26 over the last 35 games and has not won consecutive games since December.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 14

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Zaza Pachulia vs. Nikola Vucevic: Pachulia was so frustrated with his last game that he kicked a chair when leaving the floor. He needs a bounce back game. The Warriors would like for it to come against Vucevic, a talented offensive player who returned to the lineup last week in two games is averaging 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds. His 29 double-doubles rank seventh among centers. The 7-footer has added the 3-point shot to his repertoire, making 3-of-3 Monday at Sacramento.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Magic: G Jodie Meeks (R thumb surgery recovery) is listed as questionable.

LAST 10

Warriors: 5-5. Magic: 3-7.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors have won the last seven meetings, including the first this season, a 118-98 victory on Jan. 22 at Amway Center.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

STEPHEN CURRY: Curry’s fourth-quarter output in the win over the 76ers was his most impressive 12 minutes, in terms of shooting, in quite some time. He scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-5 beyond the arc. Of his previous 84 shots from deep, only 20 went in. Has the game’s best long-distance shooter returned to form? Or was this a one-quarter aberration?

GET TO 110: Though the Warriors still lead the NBA in scoring (116.1 per game), they have declined of late, averaging 99.5 points over their last six games. The Magic, however, rank last in the league (99.9) and have exceeded 110 points only twice in the last 11 games, losing both times.

THE LOCAL KID: Magic forward Aaron Gordon, a San Jose native, is among the most exciting players in the league. He can be erratic, but his spectacular athleticism often leads to fantastic highlights. He’ll want to put on a show for the 60 or so family and friends at Oracle. The Warriors will need to crowd him and cut off access to the rim.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr out indefinitely with chronic pain

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr out indefinitely with chronic pain

PORTLAND -- Still suffering with chronic pain after multiple back surgeries nearly two years ago, Warriors coach Steve Kerr will step away from his duties for an indefinite period.

Kerr made the announcement Sunday afternoon, one day after he was unable to attend Game 3 of the first-round playoff series against the Trail Blazers at Moda Center. He conceded the possibility he could miss the rest of the postseason.

“This past week for whatever reason, things got worse,” Kerr said from the team hotel. “My symptoms got worse. And I was not able to coach. The last few days have been difficult.

“With things getting worse, I just made the decision I couldn’t coach. As of now, I’m consulting with my doctors. I’m hoping for some improvement. If I can get some improvement, I’ll get back on the sidelines. But I’m not going to do that unless I know I can help the team.”

Assistant coach Mike Brown, a three-time NBA head coach who guided the Warriors to a 119-113 comeback win in Game 3, will serve as acting head coach during Kerr’s absence and will be on the sideline for Game 4 Monday night.

No matter what happens, Kerr said, he plans to assist in game preparation and remain involved with players and staff for the duration of the postseason.

“At this point in the season, we all have a feel for our team,” Kerr said. “Early in the season, it probably wouldn’t have been that way. It’s great that we’ve had the year together. It’s great that Mike has coached in this league 10 years and has coached in The Finals. He knows what he’s doing. The team is in great hands regardless.”

While spending Game 3 at the team hotel Saturday watching the game with his son, Nick, Kerr pointed out that some of the substitutions he thought should be made were, in fact, made seconds after crossing his mind.

Kerr said he did feel somewhat better Sunday than he did on Friday and Saturday.

Kerr has been coping with severe side effects since the summer of 2015. Though he has said his back was improved by the surgeries, a spinal leak has resulted in frequent headaches and neck pain.

Two days into training camp in September, barely a month after his second surgery in seven weeks, he took an indefinite leave of absence, returning Jan. 22, 2016 and coaching the final 39 regular-season games as well as the postseason.

But after laboring through 2016 training camp and the regular season -- often wearing a pain patch on the back of his neck -- the chronic anguish never went away, being by turns uncomfortable and excruciating. Kerr made it through only the first two games of the postseason.

He clearly was in discomfort during Game 2 Wednesday night at Oracle Arena and felt no better after an off-day Thursday. During his post-practice news conference Friday, before the team flight from Oakland to Portland, Kerr constantly shifted his body and grabbed his head.

Kerr was unable join the team for shootaround Saturday morning, and four hours later the Warriors announced Kerr would not attend Game 3.

“This is not going to be a case where I’m coaching one night and not coaching the next,” Kerr said. “I’m not going to do that to our team, to our staff.

“We’re hoping that over the next week or two, whatever it is, I can sort of make a definitive realization or deduction, or just feel it, that I’m going to do this or not.”

Kerr has tried various pain-killing drugs, as well as medicinal marijuana, in hopes of alleviating his chronic pain. Nothing so far has provided consistent relief, and some medications that have helped were offset by nausea and other side effects.

Kerr is in the third year of a five-year contract signed in May 2014. His 207-39 regular-season record is the best in NBA history by any coach over a three-year span.

Blazers big man Nurkic ruled out for Game 4 vs Warriors

Blazers big man Nurkic ruled out for Game 4 vs Warriors

Programming note: Warriors-Blazers Game 4 coverage starts Monday night at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

The Warriors hold a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series with the Blazers after Saturday's 119-113 win. 

For the first time this series, the Warriors went up against Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, who returned from a leg fracture. Nurkic started and played a total of 16:40 in Game 3. 

In his return, the "Bosnian Beast" was a non-factor on offense. He only scored two points, but did grab 11 rebounds. And his return was even shorter than expected. 

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts ruled Nurkic out for Game 4. 

Nurkic averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in 20 games for the Blazers after Portland acquired him in a trade with the Nuggets.