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.

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

BOX SCORE

SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 on Monday night in a showdown that turned into a major letdown for the defending NBA champions.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs, who won their fifth straight.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavaliers star LeBron James was injured late in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the base of his neck. He remained on the bench for a while receiving medical attention, then headed toward the locker room and didn't return to the game.

His status was not immediately known.

Cleveland has been out of sync recently, losing three of five, and those struggles only got worse against San Antonio. The Spurs led by as many as 33 points to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home showdown with the Warriors on Wednesday.

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than sit them for rest, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of its second rout in the past two weeks.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt and remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench. He left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout.

James finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes.

The Spurs held the Cavaliers scoreless for three minutes after San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was issued a technical foul during a timeout with 6:38 remaining in the first half.

Leonard hit a right-handed runner as the second quarter closed to give the Spurs a 64-40 lead.

TIP-INS:
Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers. . Cleveland F Kyle Korver missed his third straight game with a sore left foot, and the team plans to sit him for several games to see if rest and treatment helps. Korver will sit out Thursday in Chicago and Friday at home against Philadelphia before being re-evaluated, a team spokesman said. The shooting specialist missed seven games earlier this month with an inflamed tendon in his foot. . G Iman Shumpert missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points. . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding its opponents to an average of less than 100 points for the 22nd straight season. . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

UP NEXT:
Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

OAKLAND -- It was with impeccable timing, for the Warriors and for Andre Iguodala, that he has spent recent weeks summoning all the best parts of his game.

He has been a disruptive force on defense, as usual, but at a time when the Warriors needed something extra at both ends of the court, he is providing an abundance of offensive electricity.

Iguodala came through once more on Sunday as the Warriors suffocated Memphis in the fourth quarter to take a 106-94 win at Oracle Arena. Though the team’s Sixth Man again scored at an efficient clip -- 20 points on eight shot attempts -- his ability to energize teammates from Stephen Curry to Draymond Green to Klay Thompson and beyond is no less significant.

“We feed off his energy when we see him get a rebound or get a steal, push up the court, make a crazy inside-out dribble and finish at the rim, knock down threes or play-make for other guys,” Curry said. “It’s fun to watch.”

Iguodala’s rise has coincided with the loss of Kevin Durant, the team’s leading scorer and someone who plays the same position. With Durant out, Iguodala has taken on additional playing time, which can be risky for someone in his 13th season.

“He’s been fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He looks incredibly athletic, bouncy and fresh. He’s a pro. The guy just knows how to take care of his body. He’s done a great job of stepping up in KD’s absence and recognizing what we need from him.”

The Warriors have played 13 games since Durant went down with a knee injury, and Iguodala has played in 11 of them, shooting 44 percent from deep and 61.8 percent overall. The man who shot 62.3 percent from the line in his first three seasons as a Warrior is at 70.1 percent this season. Leadership also is part of the package.

“I try to read (what’s needed) when I get into the game,” Iguodala said. “Try to bring that energy. And, more than anything, lead by example. Not say too much. Just show it.”

When Iguodala is sprinting up and down the court, rising and dunking on one end, stripping balls away on the other, the Warriors are appreciably better team. If the Curry-Durant-Green-Thompson foursome is the engine, Iguodala is the turbo boost.

“We’re a completely different team when he’s as aggressive as he’s been of late,” Green said. “When he’s moving the way he’s been moving -- he’s beating everybody down the floor -- it makes us a completely different team. “

Igoudala’s minutes have spiked, from 23 per game in November, to 26 in December, to 27 in January and February, to almost 29 in March.

“I don’t want to run his minutes up too much,” Kerr said. “But if he has to play a couple extra minutes while KD is out, then that’s fine.”

It’s fine with Iguodala and it’s paying off for the Warriors.

Iguodala hopes it pays off, literally, when he becomes a free agent in July.

Though free agents entering their 14th season don’t often command big money, he is making a very impressive audition for the Warriors or any team that might be interested in his services.

Iguodala has made it clear he’d prefer to stay in the Bay Area, and at this rate the Warriors may have to find the necessary coins to bring him back.